The arrest of State Representative David Burnell Smith in October gave residents in Arizona pause this month, many of whom asked themselves: how should you follow the law if you're the one making them?
Some have pointed out that the representative's arrest points out perfect examples of what not to do during a traffic stop, giving people in similar situations a brief lesson in following the law.
Just before 7 pm, police allegedly received information that a late-model vehicle was swerving into oncoming traffic. After finding a car that fit a similar description, officers claim to have attempted to pull over the vehicle after they too witnessed the swerving.
The vehicle allegedly stopped abruptly, blocking a portion of the road. Legal experts point out that it is always safer to pull over as far as you can to the side of the road in situations such as this to avoid serious injury to yourself and others.
Police documents indicate that Smith attempted to then "invoke legislative immunity" when officers approached his vehicle. It is important to point out that this may only be done if the Legislature is in session; at the time, this was not the case.
After calling for assistance, the arresting officer claims to have attempted to conduct a field sobriety test which Smith allegedly refused. As Arizona is an implied consent state, Smith was arrested, after which he agreed to a breathalyzer. Some legal experts point out that this was a smart move because refusing a sobriety test in Arizona can lead to automatic license suspension along with the possibility for further penalties.
A series of error readings, police say, were the result of the representative inhaling several times rather than exhaling. Though complying to procedure may incriminate you in instances of DUI, many legal experts point out that police more often than not will document cooperative behavior that can save you possible legal headaches down the road.
Many criminal defense attorneys point out that it is generally better to follow all procedures during a traffic stop involving drunk driving charges because compliance can usually work in your favor to reduce charges or even avoid jail time when it comes to convictions.
Source: ArizonaCentral.com, "Arizona lawmaker arrested on DUI charge," Ashton Buccola, Nov. 5, 2012