Electronic Search Warrants - How They Work In Arizona

Arizona criminal defenseAugust 1, 2018 marked a huge change in Arizona for all motorists. Now, police can use a much quicker electronic system to obtain a search warrant if police suspect someone of drunk driving or other criminal offenses. Such warrants allow police to search your vehicle or test your blood.

That's why it's crucial you have an experienced criminal defense attorney in Arizona on your side.

The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Maricopa County Superior Court and local police departments have touted this change as a huge savings to taxpayers in the form of using fewer materials and less police time. Now, instead of having to fill out forms and fax them to a judge for approval, police can electronically send search warrant applications.

When can police obtain an electronic search warrant?

In 2012, the state tested the program in some counties. Deemed a success, the program was expanded statewide in 2016. Initially, not every police department utilized electronic search warrants. Now, they must do so according to Arizona statute, 17 C A.R.S. Super.Ct.Local Prac.Rules, Maricopa County, Rule 4.10.

The program works this way. The Superior Court in Maricopa County — via a 24/7 court — assists law enforcement statewide by authorizing appropriate electronic search warrant requests for blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the following vehicular offenses:

  • Vehicle-related homicide
  • Driving under the influence
  • Vehicle-related aggravated assault
  • Vehicle-related endangerment
  • Other vehicle-related offenses

This means if police pull you over and suspect you are under the influence, you can be kept at the scene until police get approval to have your blood drawn.

Police can also hold you at the scene while they get approval to search your vehicle. If police find contraband or any other evidence, they will likely ask you about it. Should you answer their questions? It’s best to consult with attorney first.

Understanding Your Rights

Police still have to follow the rules of probable cause when seeking an electronic warrant. The rules for probable cause fall under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

In addition, police must have evidence that a crime has been committed, or may be committed, to obtain an electronic search warrant. State law also limits the scope of such search warrants. Police only have access to certain areas. Unless there is an imminent danger to human life, a person's home, business, or body cannot be searched without a warrant.

Are you facing a DUI, or another criminal charge, as a result of an electronic warrant? Contact Brown, Naegle, Crider & Jensen LLC and speak with an experienced attorney at our law firm.

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