Arizona Court Decides Defendant Need Not Own a Car to Comply with Ignition Interlock Statute

Recently, an Arizona court of appeals had to decide the implications of a statute that allows defendants convicted of extreme driving under the influence to be released from jail early if they install an interlock device on their car. Specifically, the statue says that defendants guilty of extreme DUI can have 31 days cut off their jail time if they install interlock devices in their vehicles. In this instance, the court had to decide what would happen with a defendant convicted of extreme DUI if she or he did not, in fact, own a car in the first place.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with aggravated and extreme aggravated driving under the influence. The defendant sold her car to pay for a lawyer, later pleading guilty to the felony. The court sentenced the defendant to 45 days in jail, adding that all but 14 of the days could be suspended if the defendant were to equip her car with an ignition interlock device for 12 months.

The defendant asked to be released early from probation, but the State pointed out she had not installed the required ignition interlock device and that she would still have to serve her full 45 days in jail. In response, the defendant argued she did not install the device because she no longer owned a car, and thus that she should not be subject to the full time in jail. The superior court decided to release the defendant early, and the State appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the State argued cited the statute stating that a court may suspend 31 days of a person’s sentence if that person equips any car she or he operates with a certified ignition interlock device for twelve months. Here, said the State, the defendant did not install any such device in her car, and she should not have been released early under the statute.

The court considered the appeal, and it decided the main question was whether a person who does not own a car is still eligible for early release under this statute. Technically, said the court, the defendant here did not install an interlock device. But at the same time, she was not driving at all because she did not own a car, and she could not have installed an interlock device even if she had wanted to do so.

The court ultimately decided that because the defendant did not operate any motor vehicle during probation, she was eligible for early release. Even though she did not install the required interlock device, it would be absurd to require the defendant to install the device on a random car when she did not own one herself, since an installation of this nature would not do anyone any good.

The original decision to release the defendant early was thus affirmed.

Are You Facing DUI Charges in Arizona?

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for driving under the influence in Arizona, call us at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We understand that many times, pleading guilty simply is not an option, and we will help you fight for the outcome you need every step of the way. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 480-413-1499.

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