Consider the following hypothetical scenario – you’ve gone out to celebrate good news with friends. Over dinner and good conversation, someone buys one last round of drinks. You have your last drink, maybe one more than you normally would, but you don’t really feel as though it was excessive. On your drive home, you find yourself feeling a little more intoxicated than you thought you were. You catch yourself swerving a little once or twice, but are relieved to make it to your house without incident. You park in your driveway, head inside and go straight to bed.
It’s a certainty that situations just like this play out somewhere every day. While most people probably get home and make their way to bed, considering themselves lucky and telling themselves they’ll be more careful in the future, sometimes nights like this end with a very unpleasant surprise – police officers at your door with a breathalyzer and a DUI arrest.
Are “after-the-fact” DUI arrests legal in Arizona?
This is one of the first questions that many people ask when they hear about incidents like this. How can you be arrested for a DUI if you were not pulled over while you were actually driving? While it may sound outlandish at first, further consideration may shed some light on the reality of the situation. The act of driving under the influence of alcohol does not become less illegal just because nothing happened, or because a police officer did not witness it first hand. Police may be acting on a report from the road. But, if so, was that probable cause for administering the breathalyzer test in your driveway?
Breaking down the elements of a DUI
There are two elements that must be present in every DUI arrest, including:
- Your BAC was over the legal limit (in Arizona, this would be 0.08% or higher)
- You drove a car while your BAC was over the legal limit and there are reasonable grounds to believe or solid proof that this took place.
This is not to say that proving a DUI after the fact is always possible or that this happens with a great deal of frequency – but it can and does happen. And in circumstances where there is evidence that you were driving at a time when you were intoxicated, the penalties for the crime will be just the same as they would be if you had been pulled over in the act.
What could be considered proof for an after-the-fact DUI?
If you were involved in any kind of accident or collision, even minor property damage and someone witnessed it or if your driving was visibly more reckless to others than you were aware – these can be reported to the police who can follow up on it. This can also include your behavior at video monitored locations, like some intersections or tollways. Once the police are led to you based on the information they have, they can legally require you to submit to a BAC test. If you are still over the legal limit within a reasonable amount of time past the evidence they have of your driving, you could find yourself in hot water.
While there’s no need to panic – it’s not as though arrests of this nature happen all the time and when they do, it’s still a tough case for the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you do find yourself a situation like this, feel free to contact us.