The Phoenix DUI Law Blog

Legislative Immunity Can't Save State Lawmaker from DUI

State Rep. David Burnell Smith knows a thing or two about DUI law. At his day job with the Smith Law Firm in Scottsdale, he specializes in DUI and DWI defense. Now, the state lawmaker reportedly has some hands-on experience with drunken driving under his belt as well.

Smith was pulled over last month after police allegedly spotted him swerving in his car. When officers asked Smith to submit to a field sobriety test, he refused and incoherently tried to claim legislative immunity, The Arizona Republic reports.

Unfortunately for Smith, the state legislature was not in session, so immunity didn't apply.

Smith, a Republican who represents northeast Phoenix, was pulled over Oct. 21 near Pima and Lone Mountain roads in north Scottsdale. The lawmaker was apparently so drunk that he stumbled out of the car, according to authorities.

"Do you know who I am?" Smith asked the arresting officer, according to the arrest report. Smith was apparently trying to invoke legislative immunity, but his efforts were in vain.

Under Arizona's constitution, members of the legislature are privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felonies, and breach of the peace. However, the immunity only applies when the legislature is in session.

Gov. Jan Brewer knows all about the perks of being a state lawmaker. In 1988, Brewer, who was then a state senator, reportedly rear-ended a mini-van and subsequently failed four different field sobriety tests. Since the legislature was in session at the time, Brewer was able to claim legislative immunity and walk away from the incident scot-free, the Phoenix New Times reports.

Smith wasn't so lucky. Since the legislature wasn't in session, legislative immunity didn't apply and the lawmaker was arrested. According to a Breathalyzer test, Smith had a blood alcohol level of 0.137 percent. He now faces two counts of DUI.

Smith narrowly missed the cut off for extreme DUI. Had he had a BAC of 0.150 percent or greater, he would be facing a minimum of 30 days in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

Smith probably won't get another chance to flex his immunity muscles. He ran for re-election to the House this year, but lost in the Republican primary. He'll be out of office by the end of the year.

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