What Would You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty?
I do not advise my clients to plead guilty, poor choice. Hire an attorney who is experienced in DUI defense. I have done DUIs since 1989, so as of 2016 that is over twenty-seven years. You want somebody with a lot of experience in DUIs because there are nuances. DUIs are very intricate, and there are things that need to be completed, certain steps that the officers need to take, and certain steps, but in the right order. We have to make sure everything is completed in the right order within the right timeframe.
If I sit with somebody, I would say, “Look, I’m seeing something here. This does not sound like you are really remembering it correctly”. They did that in the wrong order or they did not do this one-step. Let me look into it as your attorney. I have helped people reduce their charges on many occasions. I am not going to say it is always going to happen. I have reduced their sentence from a DUI to a reckless driving or to civil traffic violations or the case was dismissed. Some folks were ready to give up by saying, “I must be guilty. He stopped me and I had alcohol in my system and I blew and I was over the limit, so I am wrong and I am guilty”, well that does not mean you are guilty, and that does not mean you were impaired to the slightest degree.
Maybe there was something wrong with the breath-testing machine, maybe the machine was not going through the periodic maintenance that it needs to go through. Therefore, they do not have a valid breath test. The test they took was invalid or the way the officer did something with the machine or you did not ask if you have anything in your mouth, or they did not have you open your mouth and shut your mouth to make sure you did not have something in your mouth. If they are not following certain steps, we may have a defense. The client needs somebody an attorney with a lot of experience in DUIs, not just somebody who says, “Sure, I’ll do your DUI. I have never done DUIs before, I’ve done a couple of DUIs, I got a couple of DUIs under my belt”, that is not what the person needs.
I was a public defender and did court appointed cases, and I worked at other firms. I never kept statistics, but in all my years, I am sure it is thousands by now.
What Is The Ignition Interlock Device? How Is It Used In Arizona?
We do have the ignition interlock requirements in Arizona. It used to be that it was only for second offenders within seven years of an arrest. If it was your second DUI conviction, and it used to be only if you were at the extreme level, we did not even talk about levels back then. We now have different levels of how your chemical is read. Therefore, it was only for a person at the extreme level, which is the blood alcohol is over the legal limit in Arizona, which is 0.08% concentration. The next level up is a 0.15%, or more BAC. We call that extreme, and then we have something that is called Super Extreme, which is if they are at 0.20% or higher. That used to be if it was your second DUI, or if you had an extreme DUI conviction, then you have to have a breathalyzer test done.
They changed the rules in Arizona, probably around 2010, I am not sure exactly when. Now, everybody who is convicted of a DUI offense must have the certified ignition interlock installed in his or her vehicle. It must be installed in your vehicle for twelve months.
Some people will get a reprieve after six months, you can have it removed again as long as you are not blowing dirty, or it does not think you are. In addition, it does not appear that you are tampering with the machine or stopping electrical current for the machine to work. Sometimes those things happen inadvertently. The person is not really blowing dirty into the machine, and they get a list of what not to do. For example, they say do not use mouthwash, but if you do wait fifteen minutes. Therefore, if you use mouthwash, and start your car, the machine is going to think you are blowing with the intent of alcohol on your breath, it does not know it was mouthwash, it thinks you were drinking.
You are not necessarily blowing dirty but the machine thinks you are. Some people do not get that six months reprieve. They have it for the whole year. There are a whole set of rules with the motor vehicle department.
There are other issues when dealing with an interlock system in your car. If your battery dies, or your alternator is broken you had better take actions to notify the person who put in the machine. You need to make sure it does not count against you. When people are deemed to have violated the rules, the motor vehicle department may give them an extension, and they have to have it installed for an additional three months. Therefore, you might have to have it installed longer than necessary if you do not follow the rules.
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