What are my rights at a DUI checkpoint?

Published: Jun. 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:22 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Sheriff's Office held a DUI check point on a heavily traveled and dangerous stretch of road, on the Southside on Tuesday night.

Deputies said they talked to 344 drivers and arrested one driver for DUI, another for marijuana possession.

The checkpoint was held on Veterans Memorial Highway on Palo Verde road, near Ajo.

Deputies said the road was notorious for DUI arrests and crashes.

Since 2011 deputies said they had busted 269 drivers for a DUI in that area.  Deputies responded to more than 90 DUI wrecks, 23 of them with injuries.  Three of them were fatal accidents.

With the 4th of July holiday around the corner Pima County Chief Deputy Chris Nanos said they wanted to send a strong message to residents.

"If you're impaired please don't drive.  We take impaired driving very, very seriously," said Nanos.

Most agencies were doing more saturation patrols than traditional DUI check points now.  Deputies said saturation patrols, where deputies fan out over a certain area and station along popular roads, were usually more effective and resulted in more DUI arrests.

A DUI checkpoint is when Deputies set up roadblocks and direct traffic into one spot on the roadway, stopping each driver and talking to them for a brief moment, then handing them pamphlets.

"The benefit of DUI check points is more public awareness, it's an education to the public," said Deputy Courtney Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff's office.

Seasoned deputies who have worked DUI patrol for years said they have heard just about every excuse in the book.

"Some of the worst I have heard is, I was the most sober one in the group so I decided to drive.  Or, I was only going just down the road to my house, it's just a couple streets away," said Deputy Tim Robertson, who has worked DUI patrols for six years.

Chief Deputy Nanos said there is no excuse, when it comes to driving impaired.

"In today's world with all the devices you have, it's easy, you can call friend, call a cab, get a ride, take the bus, walk.  Just don't drive drunk," said Nanos.

Deputies said fatal crashes almost always involve innocent victims, who were not drunk, but hit by a drunk driver.

"It's not worth it.  It's a danger to the public.  It's a danger to yourself, and it's a completely preventable crime," said Robertson.

Tucson DUI attorney Vladimir Gagic said a DUI arrest is a very serious crime, even a first offense could affect the rest of your life.

Gagic said as a general rule if you are stopped by an officer of the law, you have to give them your paperwork, and if they ask you to step out of the vehicle, you have to comply.

When it comes to field sobriety tests, Gagic says it depends on the judge.  If your case went to trial, you may be required to tell the jury that you refused to take the test.

Gagic said if you refused a field sobriety test or a blood test, the officer could still get a search warrant, and take your blood.

An officer or deputy could also still arrest you for refusing the test, on suspicions of being drunk.

Gagic said the best advice he could offer is for a person to contact their attorney as soon as they were stopped, or asked to step out of their vehicle.

A single DUI citation in Arizona could affect your future.  It's hard to get it "expunged" from your record, and you could be required to disclose it on job applications.

Even a first DUI citation could end up costing you at least $2,500.

Pima County officials said, the best advice they can give drivers.  Get a DD (designated driver), not a DUI.

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