What Are The Top Misconceptions About DUI Charges?
The first is when someone states” I was not driving. Many people will also say, “But I wasn't driving at the time, or I had already stopped and gotten out of the vehicle, or I hadn't started up yet. I was just sitting in the vehicle, but I was not actually driving at the time, or, “yes, the vehicle was on, but I wasn't in gear. I was still in the parking lot of the restaurant”, or “I went in and I ate and I drank and I went out to my car and I ended up taking a phone call or something happened. We have heard every excuse out there.
You do not have to be on anything because they are not on the highway or the street. They think this is a defense and it is not. They think they are not actually driving is a defense and it is not. With physical control, it is if you have the ability to drive and that intent or it looks like you had the intent, but for the officer intervening it appears that you would have been driving down the street, and on your way, but for whatever reason, you were intercepted. So, if you are sitting in the front seat, anywhere in the front seat, bad, bad idea. I always try to tell my clients, “Look, we are going to take care of this as best as we can, but I don't want you to get another DUI”. I am very adamant about that one thing. I do not want my clients coming back within a few months or years, ever and saying, “Look, I just got another DUI”.
I do go over the law with them in detail. What I remind them is you do not want to be in the situation again anyway, right or wrong on the current case, guilty or not guilty. Whether I can get somebody off a DUI on the current case, I do not want that person returning and telling me, “Uh-huh, it happened again”. That is why we go through the law in great detail. For example, if somebody ever found him or her in that situation and I hope, they do not, but if they did, do not sit in the front seat, because it looks like you are driving away, get in the back seat. I will tell them to get in back, lie down, rest, and recover before you drive away.
You do not want it to appear that you are up able to drive the car. Also, do not have the keys in the ignition, do not even have the keys anywhere near the front seat, near the dash, in the console, and put the keys away. Have the keys in your back pocket or on floorboard. You wanted to look like you are not in any position to start driving that vehicle from that location. The big misconception is I was not driving at the time, and I had not even started to drive, and it should not matter.
If the officer saw you driving and you managed to elude him, and he comes around the corner and you are standing outside of the vehicle, by the time the officer pulls up around the corner, it does not matter if he saw you driving. That constitutes enough circumstantial evidence to indicate you were the driver, as in you are the only one around the car. It is your car, you own the car, registered to you, you have the keys in your hand, nobody else was on the scene, and nobody else was running from the scene, the inference is going to be based on circumstantial evidence that you are the driver. Not being a driver is one thing. The other was I was on private property. Therefore, those are two big misconceptions that people have.
They say, “I wasn't fallen down drunk, I felt okay.” That's another big misconception. “I felt okay, I wasn't drunk, I thought I did well, I thought I did well on these tests”. You do not have to be drunk. The law in Arizona is clear. That first charge is the entree to other charges. It is the slightest degree.
It does not take much, and the way I describe it, I usually put my fingers together and I leave like a little tiny gap between my thumb and my forefinger, a little tiny gap and I say, “It's a smidgen”. Impaired to the slightest degree is ever so slightly. You do not need a lot. I try to enforce that with my clients that it is very little that the state needs to show. They do not have to show you are falling down drunk.
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