New Arizona DUI Law – No Trial by Jury for First-time Defendants

On January 1, 2012, Arizona’s new DUI law goes into effect.  A DUI conviction will still be a Class 1 misdemeanor and the punishment will still be the same. If convicted, you will have to pay $1250 in fines and spend 10 consecutive days in jail. You will have the option of suspending your jail sentence to 1 day if you comply with a court-approved drug and alcohol education or treatment program. You will have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle; however, you may only have to have it for 6 months. The previous Arizona DUI law required you to have the device for at least 12 months.

The big change, however, is who decides the case.

(cc) mrbill from Flickr

The previous Arizona DUI law allows first-time DUI defendants to have a trial by jury if they request it. Under the new Arizona DUI law, first-time DUI defendants will only have bench trials.  In a bench trial, the judge decides the case instead of a jury. If you are charged with a second DUI, you may have a trial by jury if you request it.

The benefit of this new law is that cases will be decided faster. A DUI trial by jury can take 1 or more days, whereas a DUI bench trial can be decided in a few hours. This is expected to save a lot of taxpayers’ money if more DUI cases are being decided in a shorter period of time.

Presenting a case before a jury of your peers is different than presenting a case before a seasoned judge who sees hundreds of DUI cases every year. A jury may be more swayed by an emotional appeal than a judge. Some lawyers expect that the punishments for DUI will be more aggressive and that plea bargains will not be frequently offered under the new Arizona law.

Judges and prosecutors are experts in Arizona’s DUI laws. When the new law goes into effect, it will be more important for DUI defendants to have lawyers who are experts in the Arizona DUI law to act as their advocate and inform defendants of their options.

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.