Monday, September 24, 2007

The new DUI law has come into effect in Arizona.

The Arizona legislature passed some get tough on DUI legislation that went into effect on September 19th. Here are some of the highlights:
1) Whereas the previous law only required the installation of an interlock device if the person blew .15 or above or has more than one DUI, now all people, no matter how low the blow, have to have an interlock device installed after any DUI. The instrument must be installed for 12 months after the person (who will have a suspended license for 90 days to 3 years) has his license reinstated. I'm not sure what effect, if any, this new law will have on deterring future DUI cases. For example, almost every DUI case that I've handled is not preceded by a DUI in the previous 12 months. Off the top of my head, I remember 2--and that's out of at least 100. I am sure, however, the companies that manufacture and install the instruments will be dancing all the way to the bank.

2) The sentencing structure has changed, also. It used to be this: impaired to the slightest degree and .08 (per se) DUI was 10 days with 9 suspended with alcohol counseling; extreme dui (anything above .15) resulted in 30 days with 20 suspended. These were minimums. Now the minimum for impaired to the slightest degree and .08 10/9 suspended, .15-.199 is 30/20 suspended, and anything above .20 is 30 consecutive days--period.

Here is the problem: Let's say that 2 young women have the same amount to drink and have the same BAC at the time they are pulled over. One young woman is given a breath test at the 45 minute mark and blows a .205; but the second is given a test at the 1 hour, 45 minute mark because of a delay with a tow truck and blows a .190 (assuming that she eliminates alcohol at the .015% per hour average rate). The first woman will serve a mandatory 30 consecutive days in the pokie, while the second will serve 1/3 of that time (possible on the weekends), even though they were equally intoxicated at the time they drove. I understand the Legislature's desire to crack down on DUI (I want to drive on safe streets just the same as everybody else), but certainly there is a better sentencing scheme available, other than bright line rules, to deal with inherent variability from person to person in these kinds of cases. If only, if only. Oh, wait, there is: it's called prosecutorial discretion in plea bargaining and court sentencing that can call consider individual factors in individual cases.


Craig Pankratz said...

That's why I want to be a prosecutor and maybe even a judge some day.

Mark Osler said...

Sigh. It makes me want to go back to being one.