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Arizona DUI task force update



Phoenix, AZ – As of early saturday morning the new Arizona DUI task force efforts that are scheduled to last through September 7, 2009 had netted 120 DUI arrests statewide.

Police agencies throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson are participating in the efforts, which include DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols.

Throughout the state they made 700 stops. Of the 120 DUI arrests, there were 12 felony DUIs and 115 misdemeanors. There were also 13 minors arrested.

“This time of year police agencies in Arizona pool their resources towards DUI enforcement,” said Arizona DUI lawyer Stewart Bergman, whose practice in Scottsdale focuses on defending people accused of DUI throughout the greater Phoenix area. “It is not unusual to see a Gilbert Police Officer patrolling in Scottsdale, or a Scottsdale Officer working in Glendale or Phoenix.”

While the pooling of police resources makes it easier for law enforcement to concentrate on any given area in the state, it can create logistical problems.

“After a large task force event, you might see a DUI case charged in Scottsdale Municipal Court because the arrest was made there. But then you have a Gilbert Police Officer who made the stop and took a blood sample. Gilbert sends their blood samples to the Chandler Crime Lab for analysis. So you end up with a prosecutor’s office like Scottsdale using Chandler and Gilbert city witnesses in the prosecution.”

The logistical difficulties of getting several law enforcement agencies to cooperate and coordinate during a DUI prosecution can provide an advantage to the defense, especially when the DUI defense attorney is on top of the situation and make appropriate and frequent requests for discovery. Because of the administrative slowdowns, there is often times more opportunity to get favorable deals.

“It is never worth it to drink and then drive in Arizona,” says Bergman, “because we see cases getting charged where the person is well under the legal limit.”

Under Arizona DUI Law, the police can charge a person with being impaired to the slightest degree even if the person is well under the legal limit of 0.08 percent body alcohol concentration. And prosecutors are capable of getting convictions for DUI when the persons alcohol level is as low as a 0.06, or 75 percent of the legal limit.

“Task force events are about more than pure public safety,” explained Bergman. “They are about numbers, and between and within some police departments, they may even be about competition. Because of this, even if you know you are okay to drive but have had drinks, if you can find another way to get home it is a cheap insurance plan against getting a DUI.”

A first offense Arizona DUI can carry up to a minimum of 45 days in jail, depending on the alcohol level, and comes with loss of driving privileges, ignition interlock devices and heavy fines.

We will continue to update this story as more Arizona DUI task force numbers become available between now and September 7.

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