Earlier this month, an Arizona court of appeals had to decide how an early-release statute would apply to a defendant that could not actually obey the statute given her specific situation. In the case before the court, an individual had been convicted of extreme driving under the influence. The early-release statute in question says that if someone convicted of this crime installs an ignition interlock device in her/his car, that person can have their sentence lessened by 31 days. Because the defendant did not own a car, the court had to decide whether she was still eligible for early release.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was charged with and convicted of extreme driving under the influence. When officers asked her to take a breath test on the road, her blood alcohol content was .20, significantly over the legal limit of .08. The high concentration of alcohol meant that the defendant was not only subject to penalties for driving under the influence, but also for a separate crime known as “extreme” driving under the influence.
In Arizona, if a person convicted of this crime installs an ignition interlock in her/his car, she or he can be released from jail 31 days ahead of schedule. Here, the defendant asked for early release from her probation, but the State argued she had not even finished her full time in jail, let alone completed the requirements of probation. The defendant stated that she should be released under the ignition interlock statute even though she had not technically complied – she did not own a car and thus could not have complied without purchasing an entirely new vehicle.