In Arizona, Can I Refuse to Take a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) Test During a DUI Stop
The laws regarding a person’s requirement to submit to an official BAC test differ from state to state. In Arizona, if you have been pulled over by the police, can you (or should you) refuse to submit to a test of your breath, blood, or urine?
Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the nation. If you get pulled over by the police and they suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs (illegal or prescription), or other substance, you will be placed under arrest and taken into custody where the police will request that you submit to a test of your breath, blood, and/or urine to measure your level of intoxication. The type of test you must do is completely at the discretion of the officer. He could technically request that you submit to all three. Most people faced with this situation don’t know their rights and the consequences if they choose to refuse. Under Arizona’s “implied consent” law, anyone who drives, or who has a driver’s license, has already agreed to only drive while obeying all traffic laws. Thus, if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI you have already agreed under that law to submit to a breath, blood, and/or urine test upon a request from police.
Even though the law states that by driving you have provided this consent, you technically still have the right to refuse. However, this refusal comes with severe consequences. Some people misunderstand and think that if they refuse the police won’t be able to collect proof to use against them in court. This is incorrect. Under Arizona law, if you refuse ANY of those tests after being taken into custody, the police will request a warrant from a court allowing them to conduct the test anyways. In order to obtain a warrant, the officer must prove that there is probable cause to believe that you are DUI. To get the warrant they will list any alleged bad driving they observed, any admissions you made to drinking or taking a drug, any scent of alcohol or drug they allege they could smell, the results of the field sobriety tests, and your refusal to submit to the tests. It is extremely rare for an Arizona court to deny a DUI warrant. Thus, if you refuse, the police will get a warrant that will allow them to conduct the test(s) anyways and obtain the samples. In addition, because of the refusal, you will lose your driver’s license for ONE YEAR. Yes, that is correct, if you refuse any test under those circumstances your ability to drive will be completely suspended for one year. Even if your license is not from Arizona, the one-year suspension will be entered into a national registry and your licensing state will be notified. Therefore, it may not be in your best interest to refuse these tests.
There is one exception regarding your right to refuse a breath test. If you have been pulled over and are suspected of DUI, police will have you exit your car for further investigation. The period between you being stopped by police and before you have been placed under formal arrest is what is commonly called “investigative detention”. If you are under investigative detention and have not been placed under arrest, if the officer asks you to perform a breath test into one of their portable breath testing devices on the side of the road, you do have the right to refuse that test without suffering the one year suspension of your driving privileges.
If you have been charged with DUI and refused to conduct these tests during your investigation you still have the right to contest the suspension with Arizona MVD. If the officer serves you with the appropriate MVD (Admin Per Se/Implied Consent) form, you have 15 days to request a hearing. Once you request the hearing the suspension is placed on pause until the hearing takes place at which time it is up to the administrative law judge to decide whether to uphold the suspension.
The attorneys at Oliverson & Huss Law have handled thousands of DUI cases from every side of the criminal justice system. We are former prosecutors, police officer, and judge. We know how to effectively and aggressively represent you with MVD and in court to get you the best possible results.