Arizona Lawmakers Approve Ban on Cellphone Use While Driving

In April of this year, Arizona became the 48th state to prohibit the use of mobile phones and other handheld mobile devices while driving. The bill was signed on April 22, 2019 by Republican Governor Doug Ducey, which will give effect to a statewide ban on using handheld devices while driving starting January 2021.

While police officers are not yet allowed to issue tickets to violators, they can already issue warnings. Once the law takes effect on the first day of January 2021, first-time violators will be issued tickets that will require them to pay a civil penalty from $75 to $149. Violators will have to pay a civil penalty between $150 and $250 for a second ticket.

Want to make sure you’re well-informed of this new law? Here are some things you should know about the statewide cellphone ban for Arizona drivers.

Are You Allowed To Talk While Driving In Arizona?

The law specifically states that any kind of cellphone use—talking, texting, sending emails, accessing social media accounts, etc.—will be prohibited unless their devices are in hands-free mode and are activated by voice.

Here are the specifics:

  • It is prohibited to hold the phone in any way, including holding it up on the shoulder or supporting it with any body part.
  • Any text-based communication or activity, including emails, instant messaging, and texts is not allowed.
  • Recording or watching videos is not allowed.
  • It is also prohibited to take or view photos on a cellphone while driving.

The following information highlights exemptions:

  • Swiping mobile device screens to accept or make calls is allowed.
  • Talking on the phone is allowed when using an earpiece or any headphone device. Using a wrist-worn device is also allowed.
  • Voice-based communications are allowed (i.e. speakerphones, typing text through mobile voice function, etc.)
  • Using a built-in GPS device while driving is allowed.
  • Using handheld mobile devices are allowed while the vehicle is stopped. The vehicle can either be parked or stopped at a traffic light.
  • Using a handheld mobile device to call 911.

To be clear, this ban will apply not only to mobile phones but also to other portable wireless devices used for communication, such as tablets.

Certain exemptions apply to officials who are responding to emergencies and to people who are in need of emergency help. The law does not include two-way radios, built-in devices, in-vehicle security devices, or navigation devices.

What About City Laws?

Even before the ban on cellphone use was approved, there were cities in Arizona that already prohibited the use of mobile phones while driving. Some of the cities that prohibited using handheld devices are El Mirage, Fountain Hills, Glendale, Phoenix, Surprise, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Tempe. These laws will remain in effect until the new state law replaces them in 2021.

What Other States Prohibit Texting While Driving?

For more than a decade, there were a number of proposed laws that sought to ban the use of mobile phones while driving. There was already an anti-distracted driving law in place in Arizona, but it didn’t specify the use of mobile handheld devices. Texting while driving was prohibited only for newer drivers, particularly teenagers.

Now that Arizona has taken this step towards banning all cellphone use, there are only two remaining states that still don’t have a statewide texting ban for all drivers—Missouri and Montana.

Using a mobile phone while driving is a serious safety issue and now a civil traffic offense.  Arizona has been added to the list of states that had already implemented a statewide ban. Although it is a civil traffic offense, this does not mean that a driver cannot be charged with a criminal offense when the mobile phone violation results in an accident or other serious misconduct.  If you have been charged with an offense, Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law is there to assist you through your troubles.

 

 

Arizona Lawmakers Approve Ban on Cellphone Use While Driving is available on call Robert A. Dodell at (480) 860-4321

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10601 N Hayden Rd, #I-103

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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How Can I Get My License Back After a DUI?

Partying is not a crime. However, drinking and driving is not a good combination.

In the US, it is estimated that 28 people die every day from car crashes caused by alcohol consumption. This roughly translates to one person dying every 51 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The statistics are bad enough to understand why driving while intoxicated is strictly enforced and why the law requires the suspension of a driving privileges.

Drug Use Lead to a DUI

What Is DUI?

DUI means driving under the influence. Depending on which state, it may be called other names such as Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired (DWI), Operating Under the Influence (OUI), or Impaired Driving.

How Do You Get Arrested For DUI?

Most of the people who drive under the influence of alcohol or other substances violate speed limits or drive erratically. Once a police officer spots an offending vehicle, the officer trails that vehicle and signals to the driver to pull over. Once pulled over, they question the driver. If driver is suspected to be intoxicated, he or she is subject to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test.

The legal limit for BAC in Arizona is 0.08 percent, though even smaller percentages may already impair a person’s ability to drive. In fact, a 2015 report from NHTSA found that 1,809 people were killed in car crashes related to alcohol intoxication where the drivers’ BAC was less than 0.08 percent.

If the person is found to over the BAC legal limit, his or her driver’s license will be taken away and he or she will be charged with a crime. Even if a driver refuses to get his BAC tested, the officer will likely get a warrant for a blood test and driver’s license and driving privileges would still be suspended anyway.

Upon conviction, a person may be sentenced to receive punishment —monetary fine, community service, or jail / prison. This depends on the severity of the incident and whether or not the person being convicted is a first-time or repeat offender.

How to Get Back Your License

Once a DUI offender gets released, their license isn’t immediately reinstated. They may have to undergo several steps depending on which state they’re in.

For first-time DUI offenders, police officers will replace the offender’s license with a temporary one. The offender must  request a hearing from the Motor Vehicle Department or the license will be suspended in 15 days.The temporary license will be go until the ruling from the administrative law judge of the validity of the suspension.  Note that failure to request a hearing will lead to a suspension of the driver’s license, after the 15 day grace period.

Suspension of a driver’s license varies in time.  It may last from 3 to 12 months depending on several factors: (1) the level of intoxication of the driver, (2) whether or not the driver has had previous DUIs, and (3) whether there was a refusal to take the blood test.

There may be multiple steps to follow for people to get their license back after a DUI.  Each case is different. Basically, the person will be required to complete all the requirements set forth by the Motor Vehicle Department, which could include payment of any fines that caused a license to be suspended; proof of insurance from the vehicle; an ignition interlock device; completion of an alcohol rehabilitation program; and reinstatement fees.

Note that alcohol rehabilitation programs vary depending on the level of intoxication at which the driver was arrested, alcohol history and prior DUI history.  It could range anywhere from attending an alcohol safety education for a several hours to signing up and committing to a long term alcohol rehabilitation and detox program. This may seem like a strict form of punishment, but it’s a good way to remind people to drink responsibly to avoid consequences that result from a DUI.

When You May Need To Hire A Lawyer

Scottsdale Courts take DUIs seriously, particularly because it often proves fatal to other motorists. Being convicted of a DUI means potentially losing your license, paying a large fine, or sometimes serving time in jail or prison. An experienced DUI lawyer may not guarantee that your DUI case is dismissed, but he or she could play a role in gaining you a reduced sentence.

In case you need one at some point, Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law is an excellent choice.

 

 

How Can I Get My License Back After a DUI? Find more on: call Robert A. Dodell at (480) 860-4321

Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law

10601 N Hayden Rd, #I-103

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

(480) 860-4321

https://goo.gl/maps/diwY4pu8X5m

When You May Want to Waive Your Right to a Jury Trial

The US Constitution recognizes and protects the right of every citizen to a jury trial (Art III, Sec. 2, and the Sixth Amendment). But, you can also waive your right for a jury trial if you prefer a bench trial, where only the judge decides on the verdict.

In general, people would not want to waive their right to have a jury trial. But, there may be cases when that will be the best option to take.

When to Waive Your Right to a Trial by Jury

According to the courts, any person can waive his or her right to a trial by jury in a voluntary and intelligent manner.  A conviction will discarded if it is shown that a defendant was not informed clearly of the difference between a jury and bench trial.

Thus, you must show the court that you are aware of the implications of your actions if you are waiving your right to a trial by jury. For instance, you may need to confirm your understanding that a jury will be composed of a dozen people from your community.

You may also need to confirm that you understand your right (through your lawyer) to participate in selecting the members of the jury, and that all the jurors must be unanimous in convicting you for the crime. If you waive your right, the decision on your innocence or guilt will be in the hands of the judge.

Once you convince the court that you have full understanding of what you’re doing, it will be then be up to the prosecutor to agree to have a bench trial instead.

There are various reasons you may consider waiving your right to be tried by a jury of your peers. Some wish to waive the jury trial because they believe that the jury will most likely not be sympathetic or compassionate; some believe the judge will follow the law more closely and not be swayed by emotion and then some just feel uncomfortable with a jury.  Whatever the reason, this should be fully discussed with the attorney before you decide whether to waive the right to a jury trial.

Waiving Your Right to Be Tried by a Jury

As mentioned, the court will only allow you to waive your right in a voluntary and intelligent manner. Likewise, the court will show that you have been well-informed about the differences between a bench trial and jury trial.  The prosecutor must also agree. If he disagrees, the trial by jury will proceed, as the State has the same right to a jury trial as the defendant.

When considering waiving a jury trial for your criminal case in Arizona, contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney At Law to help you plan your next move. Coming up with a sound strategy is perhaps the hardest part of defending a criminal case. After all, your freedom and reputation are at stake. Having an experienced and reputable lawyer by your side can help you achieve the best possible outcome.

The following article When You May Want to Waive Your Right to a Jury Trial Find more on: azcrimlaw.com

Arizona Helping Hands, Foster Care and Adoption

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” With that powerful quote in mind from Charles Dickens, The Law Office of Robert A. Dodell and staff toured Arizona Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that helps families with children in foster care.  President & CEO, Dan Shufelt, kindly escorted us through their facility.

Law book and wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or law enforcement office. Lawyer Hands holding business card with text Foster Care

Our law office works on multiple adoptions a year for families who are either foster parents or relative or non-relative placements of children who are wards of the court and in the legal custody of the Department of Child Safety (DCS). It’s fulfilling to assist bringing families together via adoption, but we wanted to take it one step further and make sure these selfless families knew about organizations like Arizona Helping Hands.

 

So, what does Arizona Helping Hands help with?  Well, it seems like everything!

 

If a foster family needs a bed or crib for a child, Arizona Helping Hands will provide one at no cost. Donations from the public, primarily through the Arizona foster care tax credit program have provided funding to supply 3,338 beds in 2018 alone to children in foster care. But that’s not all! Arizona Helping Hands also assists with clothing, diapers, books, etc., for foster families and DCS placements in need. These families need only bring their Notice to Provider from DCS, fill out the Arizona Helping Hands’ “in need” application or call for a service appointment for this assistance.  https://www.azhelpinghands.org/basic-2/

 

Our tour of the Arizona Helping Hands facility blew us away. The quiet and modest office in front completely belied the magic in back. The large warehouse, where donations of all kinds are stored in neatly packed aisles, was abuzz with activity and excitement. Volunteers lined up, assembly-style, chatted and laughed as they efficiently packed goods at long tables between the aisles. Some volunteers packed backpacks filled with school supplies for kids transferring to a new school. Over 6,500 backpacks were filled last year with age-appropriate supplies and given to foster children as the result of requests made by DCS placements, court appointed special advocates (CASA’s), DCS and tribal caseworkers.

 

Other volunteers packed personal care kits filled with basic toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc., for foster kids frequently placed in care with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s harder still, when you’ve been removed from the only family you’ve ever known and it’s your birthday. Arizona Helping Hands thought of that too. We watched in awe as personalized birthday gift bags for kids in DCS care were swiftly assembled with gift-wrapped goodies including toys, books and other treats. Sometimes even a bicycle accompanies the birthday gift bag!  Families can apply online for a birthday donation at https://www.azhelpinghands.org/birthday-dreams/ 2-4 weeks in advance of the child’s birthday. Of course, Arizona Helping Hands does not stop at birthdays; holiday toy drives are a must as well. Over 30,000 toys were donated last year! https://www.azhelpinghands.org/toydrive/

 

Whether you’re a DCS placement in need or you want to donate your time, goods or money to Arizona Helping Hands, reach out to them. They’re wonderfully organized and accomplish so much with just over 7% overhead and virtually no government support. Aside from corporate donations, most of the support is from individual donations via the Foster Care tax credit program, where a taxpayer receives a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against their Arizona State income tax liability for annual contributions. The credit is $1000 for a married couple or $500 for a single person.  https://www.azhelpinghands.org/aztaxcredit-html/

It is a wonder thing when you have a foster child in your home, or when you give of yourself to an organization that lightens a foster child’s burden. Check out how the Robert A. Dodell adoption team can help you and your family.

Arizona Helping Hands, Foster Care and Adoption was originally published on get in touch with us

Is Threatening Someone a Crime in Arizona?

It is a crime to intimidate or threaten violence under Arizona’s Threatening or Intimidating Statute; it is also illegal to threaten serious damage to property. Under ARS 13-1202, threatening or intimidating is a serious offense that’s charged either as a felony, depending on the circumstances.

With the charge, there does not have to be physical contact to the alleged property or victim. The victim simply has to report a genuine threat. Threatening or intimidating does not even require that the victim experienced any fear.

Threatening or intimidating cases typically arise from uncorroborated claims from biased victims. The allegation of threat may even be  made up, blown out of proportion, or simply exaggerated. The victim may report the charge out of frustration, vindication, or anger as opposed to a genuine concern for property or safety.

Under ARS 13-1202(A)(1), threatening or intimidating is typically charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. It can be charged as a Class 6 felony in some rare cases when it is alleged that the threat was made in retaliation to a victim reporting criminal conduct  Threatening or intimidating can also be charged as a a Class 6 felony when it involves criminal street gangs. It can be charged under ARS 13-1202(A)(3) as a Class 3 felony if made to promote the gang or to get a person to participate in gang activities.

The threatening and intimidating charge, however, is most common in domestic abuse cases and those are typically filed as misdemeanors

Penalties for Threatening or Intimidating Under Arizona Law

 

Misdemeanor Threatening or Intimidating

Threatening or intimidating is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor where the person committing the offense, either by word or conduct, threatens to cause physical injury to another person or serious damage to another’s property.  The threat is also a Class 1 misdemeanor where the person causes, or in reckless disregard to causing, serious public inconvenience including, but not limited to, evacuation of a building, place of assembly or transportation facility.  A Class 1 misdemeanor carries up to a 6-month jail term, $4500 in fines and surcharges, as well as up to 3 years of probation. If it is charged as a domestic abuse offense, the defendant may lose their gun rights and be required to take mandatory domestic violence classes.

 

Felony Threatening or Intimidating

Threatening or intimidating can be charged as a Class 6 felony if the alleged threat or intimidation is made in retaliation to the reporting of a crime, such as in a domestic violence or assault situation. It carries up to a 2-year prison sentence on a first offense. The most serious penalties are in Class 3 felony cases. On a first offense, the defendant may face a prison sentence of up to 8.75 years.

 

Defenses to Threatening or Intimidating Charges

 

No Threat Was Actually Made

Charges may be fabricated at times, particularly in domestic violence cases. Anger, blame shifting, vengeance, custody, divorce, and cheating are some of the most common motivators in most cases. Drugs and alcohol can also lead to distorted or exaggerated claims.

 

It Was Not a Genuine Threat

The State is not necessarily required to demonstrate that the defendant acted with wrongful intent, had the ability to actually carry out the threat, or planned to carry out the threat, but it still has to prove a “threat” was communicated.

 

The Alleged Threat Is Not Criminal

A huge difference exists between criminal conduct and rude/offensive behavior. Arizona criminalizes behavior that involves violence, fighting, and genuine threats. However, it does not label people as criminals because they lack control/ respect or they act rude/offensive.

 

Self-Defense

In Arizona, people are allowed to threaten physical force if it seems reasonably necessary to protect against the attempted or actual use of unlawful physical force. Threatening and intimidation is mostly justified when facing physical force to deter that violence.

 

1st Amendment Rights

The 1st and 4th Amendments of the United States Constitution protect free speech. However, free speech is not absolute. “Fighting words” are not permitted under the law. Fighting words are those likely to provoke a violent reaction in regular people. Crude/vulgar language might be protected under the law, but fighting words are not.

 

Final Thoughts

Is threatening someone a crime in Arizona? Yes, it is, and it depends on the circumstances. If in doubt, it is always advisable to consult a criminal defense lawyer to make your case. If you find yourself facing threatening and intimidating charges, get in touch with an experienced lawyer to help with your defense.

The blog post Is Threatening Someone a Crime in Arizona? was first published on https://www.azcrimlaw.com/

The Difference between Felony and Misdemeanor DUI

DUI, short for “driving under the influence,” convictions can make life difficult. They cause stress in the present moment and also have the ability to bring a lot of stress in the unforeseen future. So, what makes DUI convictions a misdemeanor or a felony? Are there any differences?

While a lot of people consider misdemeanor charges to be less of a big deal compared to felony charges, the truth is that any criminal conviction is always big deal. While it is good to avoid criminal convictions, misdemeanors aren’t likely to have such a huge impact on your life as felonies. A considerable number of employers still ask for information about prior misdemeanor charges and arrests, but some companies don’t have a problem with misdemeanors. However, they’ll want to know if there are any felony charges against you, and they will perform a criminal background check to verify your answer.

 

What You Need to Know About DUI Charges

If you’re unfortunate enough to have a DUI charge, the last thing you might be thinking of is if your charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. DUI charges have several levels of intensity, and it is worth knowing the things that will determine if you get a misdemeanor or a felony. They include the following:

  • Whether it is your first offense or not
  • Whether or not you have a valid license to drive
  • Injuries brought about by the accident
  • Whether or not there is a child under the age of 15 years in the vehicle

Misdemeanor DUI convictions often result in jail time, fines and temporary loss of driving privileges.  The severity of the punishment, however, is dependent on how many prior DUI convictions you have and the blood alcohol level. First DUI convictions, with a valid driver’s license, are usually considered misdemeanors; the same is true with a Second DUI offense, with a valid driver’s license.  A third offense, within seven years, whether or not one has a valid driver’s license, is a felony offense.

One of the things that make felony DUI conviction a lot more frightening than a misdemeanor conviction is because the defendant is sent to prison after a felony sentencing. While a misdemeanor DUI requires jail time, that jail is done in a local jail and work release is often possible.  A felony DUI results in a prison sentence, starting at a minimum of four months, usually at a prison facility far from home.  No work release is available. On a first offense felony, the offender is typically put on probation after the prison term and is required to report to an assigned probation officer on a regular basis. When it comes to felony, Arizona revoked the driving privileges and will require the offender to use an ignition interlock device once they have their driving reissued. Another thing to note about misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions is that felonies stick on your criminal record much longer, negatively impacting education, job, and housing opportunities.

DUI arrests involving driving on a suspended, refused or revoke driver’s license, children under the age of 15 years in the vehicle or a resulting  death will often result in felony charges. Convicted felons tend to experience many inconveniences when released from prison, but this often varies from state to state. Some states, including Arizona, provide tons of civil and social inconveniences after felony convictions.

It’s best that you avoid drinking and driving altogether; however, we all make mistakes from time to time. Neither a misdemeanor nor a felony DUI conviction is something you want happening to you. To avoid finding yourself in such a position, it is best that you always have a sober person or a taxi driver take you home when you’ve had way too much to drink. That way, you will never have to worry about how a felony or a misdemeanor DUI conviction could affect your life.

If you have been arrested because of driving under the influence, it is important that you get in touch with a DUI attorney to discuss options as soon as you can. A DUI lawyer can help you determine the best way forward and will defend you before the court system.

The article The Difference between Felony and Misdemeanor DUI Read more on: Choose Robert Dodell Law Offices

Robert Dodell Law Offices

10601 N Hayden Rd, #I-103

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

(480) 860-4321

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Understanding Rule 11 in Arizona

Within the rules of law in the state of Arizona, a person needs to be of reasonable mind in order to stand trial in court. If there is some evidence to suggest that the individual who is facing charges is not competent to understand those charges or the process of law, then it may be found that they are not able to go through the regular system. Here, we will take a look at how to understand Rule 11 procedure in Arizona.

 

The Purpose of Rule 11

The legal system in the U.S. is based on an adversarial scenario. It is believed that this adversarial system is the best way to invoke true justice. In the state of Arizona, Rule 11 is there to help ensure that each defendant has the mental capacity to understand what is taking place so this system of adversarial engagement can operate properly.

It is believed that a defendant needs to have at least enough awareness of reality to understand what is happening to them before it is fair for the state to exert their power against him. If an individual is found to lack the basic understanding of what is happening to them, they should not be tried or punished under the normal rules of law. Regardless of whether or not that person is facing proceedings because of information found against them or a complaint filed, it is still necessary that they are considered mentally competent.

According to Arizona state law, it is unacceptable to proceed with a court case if the person being tried is mentally ill, mentally disabled, or is otherwise unable to fully understand his charges or the proceedings or is unable to help with their own defense. Often, mental illness presents itself as either a neurological or psychiatric disorder, and it may present itself as emotional or behavioral abnormalities.

If a person shows some signs of being mentally incompetent, they will have to be examined to determine if they meet the legal definition of incompetence or not. If it is found that they are competent under specific parameters, then it will be possible to try them in a court of law. If, however, they are found under those same parameters to be incompetent, then they will not be able to stand trial.

At any point before a trial, if the judge feels there is some question as to the defendant’s mental capacity, then the judge can order an examination. It may be decided that he is not competent to stand trial. It could also be determined that he lacks the capacity to participate in his own defense. The law says that if a defendant is deprived of this examination, it prevents him from having a fair trial.

 

Why Is Mental Competency Required in a Court of Law?

The state of mental competency allows for a person to take part in their own legal defense. It is also how a person is able to know that they are doing something wrong or illegal. If they have no ability to comprehend that what they did was wrong, or if they are completely unable to participate in their own legal defense, then the court finds they can’t be legally held responsible for their acts or their decisions.

If it is found that there is sufficient reason to believe they may be mentally incompetent, then they have the right to be examined by someone capable to make a legal determination of competence. The law states that if there is a failure to determine competency, it deprives a person’s right to due process and to a fair trial. It is necessary for a criminal charge to be filed before a motion can be made to examine the defendant’s mental condition.

 

Why It Is Necessary for a Criminal Charge To Be Initiated Before An Examination Of Capacity Can Be Requested?

There is a chance that the individual could be committed into an institution if they are found to be mentally incompetent. For this reason, it is necessary for an actual criminal charge be filed before a request to examine competence can be made. Otherwise, it would be possible for the defendant to be committed to an institution even when there was no forthcoming crime.

Understanding Rule 11 in Arizona See more on: https://azcrimlaw.com/blog/