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Arizona Legislature Restores Jury Trial Option for all DUI Defendants

Governor Jan Brewer signed 155 bills into law this legislative session. One of those laws repealed the Arizona DUI law that stated that first-time DUI defendants would not be allowed a jury trial. Effective immediately, all DUI defendants are permitted to have a jury of their peers decide their fate.

Arizona’s DUI law prohibited jury trials for first-time DUI defendants starting on January 1 of this year. All first-time DUI defendants were given a bench trial where a judge decided if the defendant was guilty or innocent. A DUI trial by jury can take one or more days, whereas a DUI bench trial can be decided in a few hours. The law was expected to save a lot of taxpayers’ money by deciding more DUI cases in a shorter period of time.

The Arizona Legislature reversed this law because it was unfair to require all first-time DUI defendants to face a bench trial instead of providing the option for a jury trial if requested. In many cases, it’s in the defendant’s best interest to request a jury trial because a jury might be more swayed by an emotional appeal than a judge. Judges and prosecutors are experts in the Arizona DUI laws. They work on hundreds of DUI cases every year and will be more focused on the facts of the case.

The new law applies retroactively to December 31, 2011, which means that any person who was arrested for their first DUI while the bench-trial-only law was in effect will be able to request a jury trial for their DUI case if it has not already been prosecuted.

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a lawyer for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case.

Photo credit: Bill Bradford from Flickr