The laws against DUI offenders just got a lot more complicated.
Among the flurry of laws going into effect Wednesday, one lessens DUI penalties by allowing first- and second- time DUI offenders to continue to work while they serve their sentence, while another will revoke a first-time offender's right to a jury trial.
The former, HB 2369, lessens the impact of the penalty on motorists convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, allowing them to leave jail for up to 12 hours a day to go to work or school while they serve out their sentence.
Currently, a driver who is convicted of a DUI typically serves a sentence of no less than ten days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence until the entire sentence is served.
In contrast, the latter law eliminated the right to a jury trial for first-time offenders, and a movement to put the issue of reinstating the right to the voters failed to gather enough signatures to place it on the 2012 ballot.
According to Senator Linda Gray, the time and expense of a jury trial was not necessary for the relatively minor offense of a first-time conviction of a DUI, the East Valley Tribune reported.
Relying on the Arizona Supreme Court's recent decision that a defendant is entitled to demand a trial by jury for any offense where a jury was considered a matter of right under common law when Arizona became a state, some attorneys are planning to bring the issue to the high court.
The law was part of a package that also reduced the amount of time first-time offenders must have an ignition interlock device installed in their car from 12 months to six months if they complete an education program and calibrate the device monthly with the Motor Vehicle Division.
The ignition interlock device connects to a vehicle's starter and prevents the car from turning on until the driver passes a breathalyzer test attached to the device.
The new laws exemplify the legislature's attempt at reducing the harshness of penalties; however, one could make an argument that allowing DUI offenders to continue working during their sentence but revoking their right to a jury trial seems to negate each other.