Drunk driving is one of the top concerns among law enforcement, both in Arizona and in other states. Driving under the influence of alcohol has the ability to cause accidents, injuries and may even lead to death. In addition, drunk driving penalties can cost a lot of money in court if you’re found guilty. You may also be required to attend and pay for alcohol education classes, commit to community service or serve time in jail depending on the circumstances of your case.
As a result, it is recommended that you never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, some people misunderstand the law when it comes to operating a vehicle while after drinking. Truthfully, it can be difficult to know when you’re over the limit without a variety of scientific tests. It is important to remember that everyone processes alcohol in different ways. In most cases, DUI charges (see: Arizona Revised Statute ARS 28-1381) are brought against people who are stopped for driving a car, truck or other common on-road vehicle. The question is, can you be charged with a DUI while operating an off-road vehicle?
Can You Get a DUI on an ATV in Arizona?
The answer is: Yes. Like in other states, AZ DUI laws state that a motorized vehicle is one that uses a mechanized engine for power. This means that you can’t be charged with a DUI while on a bike, skateboard, horse or other modes of transportation that don’t require an engine. You can, however, be charged with a DUI while operating an ATV or quad because these are classified as motorized vehicles. ATVs are treated the same as cars and other on-road vehicles. Furthermore, you can be arrested for a DUI on an ATV while off a commercial roadway, but unless you are egregious in your driving, you likely won’t be stopped on your own property.
Understanding Arizona DUI Laws
- You can be arrested for DUI on an off-road vehicle
- A vehicle must be operated by a mechanized engine to be considered motorized
- Never drink and drive
- Remain silent if arrested to avoid self-incrimination
What Happens During a DUI Stop?
DUI stops typically occur because law enforcement suspects that the operator of a vehicle might be impaired, but these stops may also take place during roadside checks. A roadside check is a stop where every vehicle going through the checkpoint is visually inspected, and each driver may be required to provide a license to drive and proof of insurance. Regardless of the reason for the stop, it is important to know your rights.
When stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence, you should obey all lawful commands. These may include submitting to a series of field sobriety tests to check for impairment. You should ask to have your attorney present during any tests, but you may not be granted this request right away, and the police likely won’t wait for your attorney to arrive on the scene unless he or she is right around the corner. Regardless, it is important to document that you did ask for your attorney if the case goes to trial. When taking field sobriety tests, make sure you are clear on how to perform each exercise, and if you’re unclear, don’t hesitate to ask the officer to demonstrate each exercise for you.
You may also be asked to submit to a breath test that utilizes a calibrated machine to check for the amount of alcohol in your system. If you refuse this test, your license may be in jeopardy, even if you are driving an off-road vehicle, and you may be arrested. Whether you choose to submit to such a test should be a decision left to your attorney, but if he or she is not present, once again state your desire to have your attorney present and submit to the test.
A Typical DUI Traffic Stop
- You can be stopped for suspicion of impaired driving or at a roadside checkpoint
- Ask to have your attorney present for tests
- Obey all lawful commands
- Ask for clarification on field sobriety exercises
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
If law enforcement believes that you are impaired, you will likely be arrested. Be courteous but remain silent unless you need medical assistance. This can help you avoid self-incrimination, but more importantly, the fifth amendment is your right to remain silent. After being arrested, you will be processed at the local jail. You may then be brought before a judge to determine a bail amount and to be arraigned. The arraignment hearing is where you are formally charged with driving under the influence. In Arizona, if you have not been charged within 48 hours of your arrest, you are to be released. However, there will still be a record of your arrest and the details may be available to the public.
If your attorney was not able to be present during your DUI stop, make sure to contact him or her as soon as possible after your arrest to discuss your next steps. You should also refuse to answer any questions during an interrogation without your attorney being present. This is the case regardless of whether you have been arraigned.
When Arrested for DUI on an ATV:
- Your ATV will likely be impounded
- You may or may not be handcuffed behind your back
- Contact a criminal defense attorney before answering any questions
- You will have an arrest record that will be public record unless expunged
Does a DUI Arrest Mean You’re Guilty?
Like other arrests, a DUI arrest after driving an ATV does not mean that you are guilty. The arrest simply means that law enforcement suspects that you were breaking the law, but they must prove this in court. You are presumed innocent, even if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI.
Unfortunately, some law enforcement officers try to pressure arrested individuals into providing incriminating details or admitting guilt. This may happen at the scene of the arrest, on the way to the police station or during an interrogation. Once again, you have the right to remain silent and have your attorney present for questioning. Exercise your rights and protect yourself from making any incriminating statements.
When enjoying time off-road, it is always recommended to obey the rules and laws. Here is a guide from Arizona Game & Fish of OHV laws and safe places to ride.
Contact an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney After a DUI Arrest
Being arrested for drinking and driving on an ATV can be a confusing and scary experience. If you or a loved one have been arrested for DUI in Arizona, it’s important to know your rights and have them protected by a skilled defense attorney. At DM Cantor, you will receive expert legal counsel from experienced attorneys who know Arizona’s DUI laws. Your attorney can provide you with defense strategies to clear your name and hold officers accountable if illegal tactics were used to force an admission of guilt.