According to a Phoenix DUI Lawyer, Senate Bill 1069 which will be heard by the Arizona State Legislature in the Second Regular Session of 2010 is proposing changing the now class 6 felony of DUI with a person under 15 years of age in the vehicle to a class 4 felony. Currently, if somebody is driving under the influence with a child 14 years of age or younger in the vehicle they are subject to the corresponding DUI jail time corresponding with its misdemeanor counterpart. This new Senate Bill proposed to change the designation from a class 6 felony up to a class 4 felony. It also seeks to increase the punishment to match the standard class 4 Aggravated DUI punishment. Currently that punishment is a minimum of 4 months in prison for a first offense. Prison means that the person would be sentenced to the Department of Corrections for 4 months with no work release or work furlough option (i.e., 24 hours a day in custody).
Run of the mill Aggravated DUI usually involves a 3rd DUI conviction within 7 years. Most people agree that if you did not get the point after the first 2 DUIs, you should go to prison on the 3rd DUI. A second provision (which is not as well known) states that if you get any DUI conviction while your license is suspended (even if it is suspended for an unpaid ticket such as jay walking or failure to register your car) then you also get 4 months in prison. Most people are shocked to hear about this provision and think that the punishment is overly harsh for a person's first DUI. Every county in Arizona (except for Maricopa) usually does not enforce this second type of Aggravated DUI. In other words, they will let you plead to a misdemeanor DUI with a misdemeanor Driving on Suspended License ticket.
In Maricopa County, Andrew Thomas has decided that people who get a DUI while their license is suspended should go to prison for 4 months (no exceptions). The problem is over 50% of Arizona citizens have had their licenses suspended at some point during their lives. Usually, when they were younger and they have simply failed to take care of a simple traffic citation. In Maricopa County, Andrew Thomas has managed to destroy the lives of many a college student who got their first and only DUI while their license happened to be suspended (thereby resulting in 4 months of prison, expulsion from any State University, loss of scholarship, etc.).
It now appears that the State Legislature wants to add this 4 month penalty to anyone who gets a DUI while they have a child under 15 in the vehicle. Many may argue that driving under the influence with a child in the car is much more serious than getting a DUI while your license is suspended for failing to pay a $50.00 reinstatement fee. I say to those people, you might be right. Therefore, in this time of economic crisis and budget woes, would it not make more sense to reduce the DUI penalty for DUI with a suspended license from a class 4 felony to a misdemeanor DUI and a misdemeanor Driving on Suspended License. As a Phoenix DUI Lawyer, I say this makes more sense.
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about Phoenix DUI Lawyers, visit our site.
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