April 22, 2010

DUI Fundamentals

To convict a person of DUI, the State must prove a number of elements, which are addressed below.

  1. Driving or Actual Physical Control The first element of a DUI charge is that a person was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle. A defendant need not actually be “driving” a vehicle.
  2. Impairment The next element the State must prove is that the person driving or in actual physical control was impaired.As shown above, the State can charge: a) impairment to the slightest degree; b) BAC of 0.08 or higher; and/or BAC of 0.15 or higher. The State can also charge drug impairment to the slightest degree or the presence of specific drugs or metabolites in the person’s system.The “impairment to the slightest degree” charge almost always accompanies any other charge, because the requirements for conviction are minimal. While most people understand that the BAC limit for DUI is 0.08, many don’t realize that the State does not need to prove the presence of any BAC at all. The state must prove only that the defendant was impaired to the slightest degree. This means the defendant could have a BAC of less than 0.08 and still be convicted of DUI.The primary ways of determining BAC (and drug levels) are blood and breath tests. Arizona law requires that blood or breath be obtained and tested by certified individuals. Under A.R.S. 28-1388, only a physician, registered nurse or other “qualified person” may withdraw blood for the purpose of determining BAC (or drug content). A.R.S. 28-1325, 1326, and 1388 address who may conduct the tests.
  3. The State Does Not Need to Prove Mental State DUI statute does not require proof of culpable mental state.

In other words, the State need not prove that the driver intended to drive drunk. The State need only prove DUI within two hours of driving.

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