Arizona State Representative Albert Hale was pulled over by a DPS officer on November 23, and was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Reports on the case are a bit sketchy, and little in the way of details were provided. Here’s what we’ve been able to put together, at least according to the police. They say that Hale was driving alone when he was stopped, and that the officer noticed a strong smell of alcohol. The report also claims that Hale admitted having alcohol in his coffee (earlier that day, we assume), and that he did “poorly” on field sobriety tests.
Hale was eventually arrested, booked into jail in Holbrook (Navajo County), and, according to reports, released the same day after appearing in court. He was scheduled to appear back in court last week, but at that point no complaint had been filed. It appears that everything in the case is on hold pending results of a blood test to determine Hale’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The process of obtaining the test results could take up to several months. Interestingly, the reports indicate that the blood test was requested not by the police, but by Hale.
If the tests come back showing a BAC of 0.08 or higher, we assume Hale will be charged with DUI. But even if the BAC is determined to be under 0.08, Hale will still not necessarily be in the clear. The way it works in Arizona is that a BAC above the legal limit is an independent basis on which to charge someone with driving under the influence. A.R.S. 28-1381A2. But under A.R.S. 28-1381A1, it is an offense to drive (or to be in actual physical control of a vehicle) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if you are impaired “to the slightest degree.”
What does this mean in Hale’s case? If the BAC comes in at under 0.08, he can still be charged, but this will mean that the prosecutor will have to prove intoxication, which is a lot more difficult that proving a specific blood alcohol level. Whether, if that is the case, the prosecutor will pursue the matter in court, is yet to be determined. We’ll have to wait to see how the case develops.
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