On Tuesday, April 26th, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a verdict that may have far-reaching implications for the prosecution of DUI (Driving under the Influence) offenses in the state of Arizona. Police cannot tell DUI suspects that they must take an alcohol test, which is a change from a state form and earlier rulings.

 

Without a warrant, forcing suspects to take this test is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches, according to Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer. Justice Timmer fears that people feel they have to submit to this testing. She adds, "Our society expects, and unquestionably demands, that people follow directives issued by law enforcement officials."

 

The ruling went on to advise police how to legally handle suspected DUI cases, including asking the driver to take the test and making sure he or she is aware of the consequences of refusing. The non-criminal penalties are still steep, including loss of driver’s license for a year.

 

A case in Cochise County was examined, and the court found that a man accused of DUI was wrongly led to believe he had to take the alcohol testing. However, his conviction was upheld. The court believes that the trooper acted in “good faith”, based on previous rulings and the form the state uses.

 

Though the form does list the penalties for refusing the test, it also states “several times” that suspects are required to do the alcohol testing.

 

The same day, the justices overturned a conviction in a Maricopa County DUI case, where a man was accused of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. The ruling restated that the man should not have been forced to take a test, and he is now awaiting a new trial.

 

In both cases, judges rejected attorneys’ requests to block the use of coerced alcohol tests.