Are DUI Laws in Arizona Fair?

Laws in Arizona regarding driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs have left many citizens confused and looking for answers. Are these laws even fair?

Consider the following two situations about defendants who were charged in the state of Arizona with DUI.

The first defendant is a student at ASU. After class he meets with friends to have a few drinks. Upon leaving a local bar he realizes that he is too drunk to drive home; he also knew he was too far from his apartment to walk. He decided to go to his vehicle and sleep. He got into the vehicle, reclined the seat, and fell asleep. He had planned on sleeping off the alcohol and driving home in the morning. The next thing he remembered was waking up to a police officer knocking on his window and accusing him of DUI. The student told the police officer that he was not driving drunk, had no intention of driving drunk, and had only slept in his car after leaving the bar with his friends. Nevertheless, the police officer arrested the student for DUI. Under Arizona DUI law, was the student guilty of a DUI offense?

In the second situation consider the same ASU student was charged with a DUI offense while sitting in his vehicle outside his girlfriend’s apartment. It was the middle of a hot Arizona day, and the student was parked in a covered parking spot outside his girlfriend’s apartment. Although he did not actually start the engine, he turned the car ignition “on” so that he could roll down the electric windows and listen to the car’s radio. While he was sitting inside the car, the man’s car stereo drew the attention of police officers that were nearby investigating an unrelated matter. The police officers went over to the car, smelled alcohol on the students breath, conducted a DUI investigation, and charged him with DUI.

Under Arizona law, was the student guilty even though the engine was not running and he did not drive?

Both defendants faced consequences and punishment if convicted. Under Arizona DUI laws, the two defendants many penalties to include; mandatory jail time ranging from one day to several weeks, thousands of dollars in fines, criminal records of conviction, mandatory alcohol education classes, and mandatory ignition interlock devices. Besides the legal consequences of conviction, the defendants also faced other potential penalties such as possible job loss, embarrassment, and financial strain. Ultimately, a jury convicted one of the above defendants, but the other defendant was found not guilty.

Current Arizona misdemeanor law for DUI is well defined. In Arizona, “it is unlawful for a person to drive or to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquors, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substance if the person is impaired to the slightest.” It is also unlawful for a person to have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more within two hours either of driving or of being in physical control of a vehicle, if the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumption before or during the driving or physical control of the vehicle.