The Dirty Little Secret (of Arizona DUI First Offense)

Here is the math used in Arizona: INCREASED JAIL + DUI PROBLEM = REDUCED DUI PROBLEM.  It makes perfect sense, right.  Who would risk more than a month in jail for a few drinks.  

Apparently - lots of people.  Maybe even more people now, than when the penalties were previously lower.  Unfortunately the State's math is flawed.  Let me give you some anecdotal evidence.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in an arraignment with a client waiting for our case to be called.  Before the judge started calling cases he told the packed court room about Arizona's DUI penalties.  After going through the sentencing schemes he also made the following disclosure in open court. He stated, these DUI penalties have become harsher and harsher ever since he had been practicing law (and by grey color of his remaining hair that appeared to be a long time). "However, my courtroom still stays full." He went on to say that "we all know" the new DUI penalties have not reduced the number of DUI cases but it is the law.  "Fair or not these are the laws I am required to follow."

Well it is not everyday a judge, in open court, makes such a candid admission.  Moreover, the judge's speech was absolutely correct about the Arizona DUI laws.  Those of who are involved in Arizona DUI cases, "all know" the math is wrong.  We all know, law enforcement included, raising penalties does not reduce the number DUI cases.  One reason is the real consequence of a DUI is not jail, but taking someone's life.  If that is not enough to stop someone from driving impaired, then long jail terms that no person really knows the specifics of (until after they are charged), certainly will not have a great impact.

However, I have an idea of what may work.  In part two of this post I make my case for how I believe we should address the problem.  That is, if we are serious about solving it - which I hope we are.


Lawrence Koplow

The DUI With No Driving - Part 1

 

 

DUI stands for driving under the influence. However, years ago Arizona, like many other states, changed its DUI laws to cover situations where the person was not actually driving. Instead, to be guilty of DUI, a person just needed to be "controlling" a vehicle. The classic example is the vehicle stopped in the middle of the road and the driver is passed out drunk. That is an obvious case of someone controlling a car without driving.

However, there are many situations, where it is not so obvious that a person is "actually controlling" a car. There has been a growing debate regarding as to what it means to be "controlling" a car in a DUI case. For example, people can legally use their car as a shelter after they have been drinking alcohol.  Someone who sleeps in their properly parked car after getting drunk is not "controlling" their car for purposes of Arizona DUI law. However, if they put the key in the ignition to turn on the air condition, does that action create a DUI? The Arizona Supreme Court Case recently attempted to end the debate in the case of State v. Zaragoza.

Zaragoza was convicted on an Aggravated DUI charge after he was found at an apartment complex:

•    Sitting in his car
•    The engine was off
•    His hand on the wheel, and
•    The keys in the ignition,
•    Alcohol in his system

Zaragoza claimed that he had no intention to drive, but only to sleep in his car. He claims the reason the keys were in the ignition was to roll down the window, and turn on the radio. 

He appealed his conviction based on the argument that the jury was provided inappropriate instructions regarding the law of actual physical control of vehicle.

The Arizona DUI statute does not define what “actual physical control” of a vehicle is, and there have been varying types of jury instructions on the meaning of this phrase through-out the courts. 

The Arizona Supreme Court took this case, and attempted to clarify the law’s definition. They stated that actual physical control has nothing to do with the intent of the driver to move or use the vehicle, but the actual and imminent danger to the him/her self or others at the time alleged to have control. This means that all facts must be looked at together in order to appropriately determine if there was an actual or imminent danger.

The Court also held that in this case, the instructions did not mislead the jury, but that they may have misstated the law. Because of the variations in instruction, and the result of Zaragoza's case, the Arizona Supreme Court decided to provide a new jury instruction for future cases.

The new instruction will be published in Part II of the blog post.

If you need assistance or additional information about an Arizona DUI case, please contact the Koplow Law Firm Online or by phone at (602) 494-3444.

Lawrence Koplow

 

Scottsdale DUI: Changes in the Scottsdale Courts

What is going on in Scottsdale?  In the last 30 days two judges have been let go by the City Counsel.  What is coming next? 

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If You Thought The New Arizona DUI Laws Were Tough, Wait Until You Hear What Other Drivers Are Doing To DUI Suspects In Scottsdale, Arizona

There has been a lot of publicity regarding the new Arizona DUI laws. These new laws have created some of the toughest penalties in the nation. However, it appears that drinking and driving in Arizona could result in something worse than jail.

Mark Flatten of the East Valley Tribune is reporting that a man shot a hit-and-run suspect in Scottsdale, Arizona.

An attempt to block a fleeing hit-and-run suspect ended with a gunshot in Scottsdale Saturday.

Martin Ezekiel, 23, of Phoenix was arrested on charges of aggravated assault after he fired a shot into a truck that had been involved in an accident a short time earlier, wounding the passenger, according to Scottsdale police.

The truck driven by Adbul Muhammad, 28, of South Carolina, struck another vehicle about 1 a.m. Saturday in a Phoenix parking lot and left the scene, according to police reports. Ezekiel and Shawn Azzarello, 24, of Phoenix, witnessed the accident and followed Muhammad’s truck into Scottsdale, eventually blocking it in a parking lot at 15550 N. 78th St. When the truck backed toward Ezekiel’s vehicle, he fired a single shot, striking an unidentified passenger in the right forearm, according to police reports. Both vehicles then left the area but were later stopped by police.

Ezekiel was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, and Azzarello for DUI and drug possession. Muhammad was arrested for DUI.

The unidentified gunshot victim was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn. His wound was not considered life threatening.

I guess having to use an ignition interlock device is not as bad as being shot. Who knew that it could get worse for people suspected of DUI in Arizona?

About

Lawrence Koplow is a founding member of the Koplow Law Firm. His criminal practice is dedicated and focused on DUI law and vehicular crimes defense. His clients have included police officers, firefighters and lawyers charged with DUI. Attorneys often consult with him to assist with their own DUI clients.

He is a proud graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He is also an active member of:

Lawrence is a former prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. When he left the County Attorney’s Office, he was working in the Vehicular Crimes Unit. While in the vehicular Crimes Unit, Lawrence prosecuted:

After leaving the prosecutor’s office. Lawrence worked in the in-house counsel group for Farmer’s Insurance, where he primarily handled the defense of automobile accident cases. This included defending civil lawsuits arising from DUI crimes.


Mr. Koplow subsequently co-founded the law firm of Koplow & Patane which eventually evolved into the Koplow Law Firm.  His practice is focused on the defense of impaired drivers charged with DUI and vehicular crimes. Now he uses what he learned as a prosecutor to benefit his clients. Lawrence frequently writes regarding emerging DUI issues and defenses. He also presents lectures on DUI defense strategies, DUI prevention and effective DUI investigations. Some of the people has conducted DUI seminars for include:

  • The Chicago Cubs
  • The Oakland Athletics
  • The Milwaukee Brewers
  • The Arizona Association of Civil Defense Attorneys
  • The Northern Arizona Police Department

He has also been a guest lecturer on KTAR Radio in Phoenix regarding DUI and Vehicular Crimes cases. 

For Additional Information:

Contact Lawrence Koplow on-line or call him at his office at (602) 494-3444.  Mr. Koplow and his firm will be available to help you solve your legal problems.

Locations

Lawrence and his firm practice in the following Arizona locations:

  • Phoenix
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Gilbert
  • Chandler
  • Surprise
  • Apache Junction
  • Flagstaff
  • Sedona
  • Bullhead City
  • Glendale
  • Peoria
  • Avondale
  • Buckeye
  • Carefree
  • Cavecreek
  • Casa Grand
  • Prescott
  • Lake Havasu
  • Tucson