A Significant Change to Arizona Parking Laws
You should be careful where you park anytime because you could face parking tickets for failing to heed posted parking instructions. But if you’ve been out partying, your judgment could be further impaired, and a small parking ticket could lead to DUI charges if law enforcement finds you’ve been drinking and driving.
A new Arizona law concerning parked vehicles took effect on October 1, 2021. The law states that you cannot even partially obstruct a sidewalk or otherwise impede a pedestrian from using the sidewalk.
It’s always been illegal to park on the sidewalk, but now something as simple as a trailer hitch being slightly over the sidewalk could lead to an expensive parking ticket or far worse consequences.
The only time you’re allowed to park on a sidewalk is for purposes of loading, unloading, or in case of an emergency or to follow law enforcement’s orders.
The new law aims to make Arizona a friendly and hospitable place for those with disabilities. Within the law’s language, it specifically states that the sidewalk must be clear based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide five feet of clearance for wheelchairs to avoid going into the street to go around vehicles.
It might sound like no big deal to face a minor parking infraction. But if law enforcement finds you over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, the charges could become far worse.
Watch Where You Park for Parties
When you pull up to a party, there will likely be many vehicles already parked in the area. Avoid the temptation to park in the driveway where you might obstruct the sidewalk. It’s best to find safe street parking nearby.
If law enforcement gets called to the party for noise or other disturbances and you’re starting up your car to head home, you could face a DUI for driving while impaired.
The scenario might sound far-fetched because it’s the perfect storm, but by obstructing the sidewalk, you’ll be inviting attention to yourself that you simply don’t want while out partying.
A Parking Infraction Could Give an Office Probable Cause
An officer cannot test the blood alcohol content (BAC) of any driver on the road. Instead, the officer first needs probable cause that the driver broke a law. Parking infractions can give the officer the probable cause that they need to ask you if you’ve been drinking.
However, a DUI is not possible until you take actual physical control of a vehicle. This means getting into the driver’s seat with your keys in-hand or starting the vehicle up.
That means that the officer cannot charge you for a DUI if they find your vehicle is parked illegally over a sidewalk and discovers you’ve been drinking while your vehicle was parked there.
Instead, the officer must observe physical control of the vehicle and have probable cause for questioning you or pulling you over. This is a very important distinction you should make and ensure you don’t give the officer any reason to search you or question you. Know your rights and don’t willingly submit to searches or questioning unless you’re legally required to do so.
Your defense begins at the traffic stop. Even if the officer has probable cause to question you or begin a traffic stop, you should invoke your fifth amendment right to remain silent and have your attorney present.
And if the officer arrests you, the officer has a duty to inform you of your Miranda rights. Failing to do so could leave room for you to challenge the legality of the arrest.
If you’re facing a DUI and are unsure whether the arresting officer had probable cause to pull you over or question you, contact our office. We’ll evaluate your case to guide you in understanding whether your rights were violated and help you build a strong defense against the charges.