A lot of DUI lawyers and civil libertarians don’t like it. Prosecutors are grateful for it. And courts and legislatures have battled over it. Now the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that implied consent is valid.
In a nutshell, “implied consent” means that when you get your Arizona driver’s license, you automatically consent to testing if you’re stopped by an officer who thinks you’re driving while impaired.
You are able to refuse a breath or blood test, but if you do, you’re automatically suspended for 12 months – longer if it’s not your first offense.
Implied consent has continued to be an issue around the country. Some people simply do not like the idea that you are automatically punished, without trial, if you refuse a chemical test to determine your level of intoxication. The constitution, after all, allows one to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination.
But driving is not a right – it’s a privilege – and as such the state that conveys the privilege has the right to decide what one must do to retain it. That includes submitting to sobriety tests if the police have reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is impaired. Most states will not physically force a suspect to submit to a blood test, but the repercussions of not doing so are immediate.
Administrative License Suspension – ALR – is considered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to be a vital element of any anti-drunk-driving strategy. But to work effectively, license suspension should always be coupled with the option to drive with an ignition interlock, a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. On its own, license suspension is not an effective prevention tool: half to three-quarters of suspended drivers will take to the wheel during their suspensions, and those who tend to drink and drive will likely be impaired while doing so.
Right now, Arizona is in line with most of the country on implied consent, though the challenges will no doubt continue.