Interviewer: What are the top misconceptions people have regarding DUIs?
Brian: Most people think they do not consume enough to really have that blood alcohol content. The traditional statement is, “I only had two beers.” You see that constantly, no matter if they are four times the legal limit.
People do not realize their license is suspended. The problem with this admin per se implied consent law, where they suspend your license under suspicion of DUI, is quite often the police are dealing with drunk people.
Drunk people do not have the attention span to realize you are handing them a piece of paper suspending their license. They need to look at it and read it when they are sober. A lot of times, people come in to the office and I tell them, “Okay; you know you are not allowed to drive right now.” They have no clue.
That can lead to other problems, including felony charges if they were to go out there and drive drunk again. All of a sudden, now we are talking about aggravated DUI, which is a Class IV felony in Arizona.
People seem to be under the impression that the amount of alcohol in your system, and your blood alcohol content, indicate whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
The amount of alcohol in your system has nothing to do with misdemeanor or felony. The only way to get a felony, aggravated DUI in Arizona, is if there is something wrong with your license. If it was suspended, revoked, refused or restricted, then you can get charged with aggravated DUI if you then go out and drive under the influence of something.
You can get it if there is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle. You can get an aggravated DUI Class IV felony if you are driving and you are supposed to have an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Interviewer: Is having someone age 15 or younger in the car, or driving on a suspended license, considered aggravating or enhancement factors in a DUI?
Brian: No, they are just elements of a felony offense. Having a kid in the car with a DUI will pump it up to a Class IV felony. A third DUI within seven years will bump it up to a Class IV felony. Having an ignition interlock device ordered to be in the vehicle while doing a DUI will bump it up to a Class IV felony.
Interviewer: Do these circumstances add- on to a regular DUI and enhance the penalties in a charge?
Brian: They bump it up from a Class I misdemeanor to a Class IV felony. There is a legal definition to enhancement and aggravation. It does not really fall into one of those things. The closest thing would probably be enhancement though.
Interviewer: Are there any other misconceptions people have when they come to see you for a free initial consultation?
Brian: I think one of the biggest misconceptions- probably the reason people do not seek out private counsel- is they are just satisfied taking the hit. “I will just stick with the public defender. It is fine.” They think, “I was drinking, and I drove. I am guilty.”
There are so many other factors to consider. It is just not that simple. The law is not that simple. The law does not say, “If you are drinking and you are driving, you are guilty.”
You have to be driving or in actual physical control; or your ability to drive needs to be impaired to the slightest degree; or you need to be above a 0.08 blood alcohol level; or you have to be under the influence of drugs or prescription medications. It has to impair your ability to drive.
There are so many aspects to that. There are so many ways to fight the case; to get evidence suppressed, or get the case dismissed if the officer does something inappropriate. There are so many other factors. People are doing themselves a disservice if they just believe, “Well, I did it so I must be guilty.”
I have helped many people who were actually driving and under the influence of alcohol. I got the case dismissed. People were looking at 10 to 15 years in prison. However, because they hired me, I was able to get the case dismissed or get just one day in jail.
I recently had a guy who was looking at, I want to say, 22 years in prison. The prosecutor wanted him to plead guilty and do 2 1/2 years in prison. After I was done with the case, it went from 2.5 years in prison and a felony, down to one day and a misdemeanor. Also, the person was given credit for the day already served. So he ended up doing no additional jail time.
The right attorney really makes a difference. A person would not want to hire me for a divorce. They would not want to hire me to represent them on a child molestation case. This is because I have not devoted my life to that.
I have devoted my life and career to DUI, and it pays off. I know what I am doing. I am able to fight traditional issues, as well as utilize outside the box ways of fighting cases. It works for me. It works for my clients.