The Arizona Office of Highway Safety recently released figures regarding DUI arrests. While DUI alcohol arrests were down over Memorial Day weekend, DUI drug arrests increased.
DUI Drug Arrests Increase in Arizona
While arrests for alcohol-related DUI are down, it appears the numbers have increased for drug-related DUI.
“DUI Drugs has increased everywhere, nationwide,” said OHS Director Alberto Gutier.
Over the weekend, officials stopped 17,000 vehicles, almost 500 more than last year. While DUI aggravated, misdemeanor, and extreme arrests were all down. The only increase was to DUI drug arrests.
The 131 arrests are a 22-percent jump from 2017. According to Guttier, that’s not just because officers made more stops.
“I’ve seen an increase over the last 4 to 5 years, on a steady basis,” he said.
Across the nation, law enforcement agencies are blaming the opioid epidemic as well as the increase in legalized marijuana for the sharp increase. Guttier says it doesn’t end there.
“It’s beyond opioids. It’s also marijuana. It’s also hallucinogens—other things that are coming back, which drives me nuts,” he said.
In light of the increase, officials are stepping up their game.
Gutier says Arizona is among the top in the nation when it comes to drug recognition experts. Arizona officials are also tracking stats from 85 agencies, utilize 13 DUI task forces, and even testing new saliva kits which claim to be able to identify drugs.
“People don’t recognize what Arizona does. In other parts of the country, state police don’t talk to sheriffs and doesn’t talk to police departments. They don’t like each other. Here in Arizona, we work together. I don’t think Arizona has reached that maximum that other states have, because we enforce the law pretty heavily,” he said.
DUI Is NOT Just Alcohol
When people hear “DUI” they usually automatically assume that alcohol was involved. But remember, DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” and that can mean under the influence of anything, including alcohol, drugs, and even prescribed medication. DUI charges can be very hard to fight, which is why you’ll want to work with a criminal defense lawyer like the ones at Ferragut Law Firm.
Alcohol is just one substance that can impair a person’s ability to drive. But it is not the only one. Driving under the influence includes driving not only under alcohol, but also illegal drugs as well as prescribed drugs. That means that if you have received a prescription from a doctor, you’re going to want to closely monitor how the drug affects you before getting behind the wheel of a car. Additionally, a prescription cannot be used as a defense to DUI charges. What this means is that if you are pulled over for driving under the influence of a legally prescribed drug, the fact that you have a prescription to be on the drug cannot be used to excuse the charges.
A 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that close to 10 million Americans had driven under the influence of illegal drugs during the previous year. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2009, more than 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug in 2009. Another survey performed that same year by NHTSA found that one in five motorists that were killed in car crashes tested positive for drugs.
Know How Your Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs Will Affect You
Just because a drug is legally purchased at a pharmacy, prescribed by a doctor, or bought over-the-counter (OTC), that does not mean they are not potentially dangerous. Do your research and look at warning labels or ask your doctor or pharmacist about how the drugs you are taking could impair your driving.
Here are some effects of commonly prescribed drugs and OTC drugs:
- Antidepressants: can cause impairment similar to drunk driving.
- Valium: 10 mg of the popular tranquilizer can cause impairment similar to having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent.
- Antihistamines: can cause slow reaction time and impair coordination.
- Decongestants: can cause drowsiness, anxiety, and dizziness.
- Sleeping Pills: residual effects can impair drivers.
- Hydrocodone: can cause impairment similar to morphine and codeine.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney that handles DUI cases.
If You’ve Been Pulled Over
You have the right to remain silent. This is also true regardless of if you have been temporarily detained (like during a routine traffic stop) or formally arrested (like for a DUI). In instances like a traffic stop, you will need to provide your license, registration, insurance, and name, when asked. Some state laws require that you answer basic identifying questions, such as name and address. Beyond that you are not required to give further statements and are free to respond to a police officer by saying, “I choose not to answer that question.” This saves you from potentially providing incriminating information.
You do not have to consent to a search of your person or your car. Police often casually ask if they can “take a look” in the car. You are legally able to deny them that position. This is not the case if the police have probable cause to search the car, which is where the law gets tricky. Police will seemingly always state they have probable cause. Also if you’ve been placed under arrest, police are able to search you and sometimes your vehicle. This is regardless of if you’ve given consent or not.
You have the right to ask for an attorney from the moment you are arrested.
If you’ve been temporarily detained (and not arrested), you are legally allowed to ask police officers if you are free to go. If they say “yes,” calmly walk or drive away from the scene.
Try to remain calm. Be as polite as you can. Even if you feel like your rights have been violated, no success will come from attempting to argue your way out of the problem. Assume the law is always on the side of the police officer. So if you give him or her any reason to feel unsafe, they are legally able to act accordingly. This means keeping your hands in plain view at all time, avoiding making sudden movements, avoiding interfering with what the police are trying to do, and avoiding giving false statements. Do not give a police officer any reason to mistreat you or add charges.
If you have been accused of committing a crime or arrested, it’s critical that you immediately contact a criminal defense attorney.
Ferragut Law Firm Will Defend You
Ferragut Law Firm is a top rated criminal defense law firm based in Phoenix Arizona. We are dedicated exclusively to the practice of criminal law in all state, federal, and city courts throughout the State of Arizona.
Our mission is to achieve the best possible results for our clients through hard work, attention to detail, and aggressive advocacy, while maintaining the highest level of professionalism, integrity, and ethical standards.
We are committed to providing the most aggressive, professional, and effective representation for our clients accused of crimes to ensure that their legal rights are protected and that the best possible results are achieved. Contact us to discuss the details of your case.
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