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Understanding field sobriety and chemical tests in Arizona

Arizona’s laws governing drunk driving are some of the strictest in the nation. People can be charged with felony drunk driving and forced to use ignition interlock devices after a period without any driving privileges at all, pay high fines and even spend time in jail. The penalties are varied and depend largely upon the blood alcohol content of the drivers at the times that arrests are made. Law enforcement officials are given the ability and the responsibility of determining intoxication via a series of testing methods.

According to the Arizona State Legislature website, holding a license to drive in Arizona automatically provides consent on the part of a driver to participate in chemical testing that can include a urine test, blood test or a breath test at the request of a police officer or other law enforcement professional. 

Persons who do not agree to consent to a chemical test when requested by officers can have their drivers’ licenses suspended for a period of 12 months for first offenses or for a period of 24 months if they have had any prior offenses in the previous 84 months. It is not only overt refusals to participate in testing that can lead to such a suspension. The failure to take such a test at all, even if agreed to, can ultimately be deemed a refusal to take the test.

While chemical tests are required by law, participation in any field sobriety test is not. It is important for drivers to know that these tests are highly subjective by nature and even a person who has not had even one alcoholic beverage can fail these tests for many reasons. Road conditions, lighting and even things like medical conditions or physical abilities of drivers can make passing field sobriety tests difficult.

At the Baker Law Firm, we can help people understand how to navigate the request to take a field sobriety test.

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