Is There A Typical DUI Client In Arizona?


In Maricopa County, Arizona, which is where I work principally, I would estimate 20,000 or more arrests a year and my clients vary greatly; last year, I represented someone who was 17 at the time of the offense, and I’ve represented clients in their 80s, so it runs the gamut, although there are far more males than females and for alcohol DUIs, most clients are in their early 20s through their 40s, while the age of DUI clients for prescription drugs tend to be older, in their 30s and up. For illegal drugs like marijuana or heroin, they tend to be younger.

What Is the Typical Reaction People Have to Being Arrested and Charged with a DUI?

The first thought is just that they got arrested; everyone assumes they’ll never be arrested so it’s a can be a bit of a shock, especially with prescription drugs, because they don’t think they were doing anything wrong and they shouldn’t have even been stopped.

Other than that, particularly with alcohol, they’ve read a lot about DUI online and by the time they talk to me there are fewer misperceptions than in the past. Everyone knows that, if they’re found guilty, they’ll go to jail or their license will be suspended; the Internet has provided much more information to prospective clients than there used to be.

How Public is Knowledge of a DUI Arrest in Arizona?

I’ll speak about Maricopa County, since that’s one of the biggest jurisdictions in the state, but it will depend on the jurisdiction; Arizona is different than many states in that you don’t just have one prosecutor within Maricopa County or the other counties. A felony is prosecuted by the county attorney’s office, while a misdemeanor DUI goes to a municipal court if the arrest is made within a municipality by a city or Town police officer. For example, if the arrest was made by a Scottsdale Police officer in Scottsdale, it goes to Scottsdale Municipal Court, but if the arrest was made by a state or county officer, a deputy sheriff or a DPS (Department of Public Safety) officer, which is the state police, it will go to a separate court system called the Justice Courts, where the county attorney will prosecute the case.

It gets a little bit more complicated, but if a municipal officer, say a Gilbert Police officer is patrolling in Mesa, because Gilbert and Mesa have an agreement where the officers can patrol in each other’s cities, the case will go to the Mesa municipal court.  The long and the short of it is, we have many courts here and many different prosecutors.

The availability of the information will vary by jurisdiction.  For example, Scottsdale publishes a list of people arrested for DUI and other crimes every week, which means it can become public information, although people will have to search for it.  For anyone who is booked into the county jail either by a municipal, county or state police officer their mug shot is posted online for a couple days, so someone could find out about it if they searched the mug shots on a given day.

It is also a fact that nearly all courts have websites now, with varying amounts of information about people who have been arrested.  For example, in Gilbert or Tempe, if you run a search by name, you can see if someone’s been arrested and if so, the charges they face, so someone could search a court website and find out. The Arizona Supreme Court has a public access website, which allows one to search a person’s name and find out that information. In all cases, someone would have to know where to look.

When it comes to an employer, generally for a misdemeanor charge, no one will tell any employer about it, although they may find out about it indirectly. For example, if the arrested person can’t get to work because they’re serving jail time or if guilty and required to install an ignition interlock device, and a person looked into their vehicle and saw an interlock device; or they have to drive on the job and the rules require them to tell the employer about a conviction.

In case of a felony, if there is a plea in which they get county jail time rather than state prison time, they will do what’s called work furlough, which means the probation officer will contact the employer. Those are some basic ways in which the general public or an employer could find out about an arrest or conviction for driving under the influence.

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