Brown & Little, P.L.C. » DUI

A Big Year For Marijuana DUI

In Arizona, a marijuana DUI used to be a pretty cut and dried thing. The law said it was a crime to be in actual control of a vehicle with marijuana “or its metabolite” in your body, and courts treated it as a strict liability offense for all metabolites, regardless of impairment. Marijuana DUIs were pretty much all charged under two subsections: (A)(1), which requires proof of impairment to the slightest degree, and (A)(3), the strict liability subsection that did not. Luckily, that changed when the Supreme Court of Arizona held last April that drivers cannot be convicted of the (A)(3) offense based merely on the presence of a non-impairing metabolite that may reflect prior usage of marijuana. As the opinion explained, THC is the primary psychoactive component … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

How To (Really) Get Through A DUI Checkpoint

An interesting DUI checkpoint video has been circulating lately. In it, the driver gets through without even rolling down his window, passing by with ease thanks to a plastic bag attached to his car with a string. The bag contained his license, registration, insurance information, and a note saying “I remain silent,” “No searches,” and “I want my lawyer.” As clever as it may be, it’s also dangerous to think it will always be that easy. The most important thing any driver or rider can keep in mind when dealing with police is that the law does not exist in a vacuum. It only matters as applied to the facts, and except in the most unusual circumstances, courts are going to adopt whatever “facts” the officer provides. … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

Somebody Must Have Read Catch-22

A member of the East Valley DUI Stasi Task Force apparently decided to park himself outside of a local bar one night last year. According to at least one witness, the cop then proceeded to stop one person after another for neither a traffic violation nor on reasonable suspicion of impaired driving. He was basically a one-man DUI checkpoint at the exit of a local bar, they said. My client, who was stopped that night by that officer at that location for a traffic violation he denies committing, wanted to prove what the officer was doing. In most of my DUI cases, I find that clients don’t complain much about the stop. On the other hand, I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered a stop made by an officer … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Police

You’re Screwed Just The Same

Accomplice liability must be a tough thing to grasp, as I often hear defendants argue about how they shouldn’t be sent to prison for various things because it wasn’t totally their fault. They didn’t kidnap the victims, they just continued to hold them against their will after someone else snatched them. They didn’t assault the victims themselves, they just drove their co-defendants to the victims’ house to do it. I could go on and on. Addressing those sorts of arguments, I sometimes hear prosecutors and judges say that it didn’t matter to the victims who made what decision and who took over which responsibilities; they’re awful crimes, and all participants should face the music. In one case, the prosecutor asked, “do artificial distinctions comfort someone in a … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Police

Guilty Until Proven…

Oh, who am I kidding? They aren’t even going to let you prove yourself not guilty. Not before it’s too late, at least. I’m talking about the Town of Gilbert again, and this time it isn’t your car or your money that they’re after. It’s your driver’s license. The situation where I was recently reminded of how evil Gilbert is involved a client who received notice from the MVD telling him his license was suspended for failing to appear for a court hearing in Gilbert. If you get stopped for DUI in Gilbert and they take a blood sample, which they probably will, you may have to wait for a summons from the court instead of getting a ticket and a court date right there at … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI

Are They Idiots Or Are They Liars?

I wouldn’t be writing about Mesa twice in row if I didn’t think it was all noteworthy. This time, though, I’m a little less cynical. I refuse to believe the judges at Mesa City Court are anywhere near as simple-minded and unfair as some of the prosecutors there claim. To give you some background, if you are charged with misdemeanor DUI in Arizona and your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.15, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is one day with nine days suspended. If your BAC is between 0.15 and 0.20, it’s nine days with twenty-one days suspended. Any misdemeanor DUI in Arizona could theoretically result in 180 days in jail, but I’ve never seen it happen, heard about it happening, or even realistically considered that any prosecutor could … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, DUI, Prosecutors

Politics In Action

I’d rather not write a post about Kolby Granville, but he’s a public figure and his Facebook posts make it tough to stay quiet. Kolby seemed nice in law school. I think he was in the peace corps and a famous archer before that. I heard he ran for office before law school too. He asked lots of questions in class. He got some type of firm job after graduating, and he quit to become a teacher, at some point running for and winning a spot on Tempe’s City Council. Like hundreds of other people I don’t really know terribly well along with a small group of people I do, he and I are Facebook buddies. He recently posted this: (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Government Rants

Scottsdale’s DUI Machine Malfunctions, Court Of Appeals Doesn’t Care

One of Scottsdale’s DUI-conviction-machines has some serious problems. I first wrote about it in 2012 after a Scottsdale City Court judge prevented me from telling a jury about the problems. The judge demanded an offer of proof before he was willing to admit evidence of anything calling into question the city’s malfunctioning piece of equipment. Instead of making the state bear the burden of proving the test was accurate and admitting all of the information about its problems, he presumed the results were accurate and precluded any information to the contrary. I wrote about it again in 2013, when a Maricopa County Superior Court judge finally ruled that blood test results from the machine in several cases were inadmissible pursuant to Rule 702 of the Arizona Rules of … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

DUI Home Detention

Arizona’s extreme DUI statute is A.R.S. § 28–1382. Subsection (D)(1) requires thirty consecutive days in jail for a DUI involving an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more but less than 0.20, and subsection (I) allows for all but nine of those to be suspended. For an alcohol concentration of 0.20 or more, the same subsections require forty-five consecutive days in jail and allow for all but fourteen days to be suspended. Depending on the court, you may be able to do home detention for some of your time. The relevant home detention statute is A.R.S. § 9-499.07. In 2011, Senate Bill 1200 made some substantial changes to the law. Here is what it changed regarding the eligibility requirements a prisoner must meet for the program: Notwithstanding section … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

What The Hell Do They Want?

A former client of mine contacted me a while back asking for help with a situation that makes my blood boil. He’s a smart guy and a good person, but his life has been a constant struggle, a fight to escape a hard life of poverty and mental illness. He never got any of the luck breaks most of us have had at some point or another. For a while, it seemed like he was on the right track, though. Sadly, he found himself in trouble again. That was when he called. I could’ve been disappointed, but I mostly just felt awful for him. I wanted to give him a hug and go back in time to make everything right, but that’s never going to … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

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