Court Sides with Defendant in Aggravated DUI Case

Recently, an Arizona court addressed the State’s appeal in a case involving aggravated and extreme aggravated driving under the influence. On appeal, the State argued that the lower court should not have allowed the defendant to be granted an early end to her probation. Looking at the text of the statute involved, the court disagreed with the State and affirmed that it was acceptable for the defendant’s probation to be terminated early.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged in 2019 with multiple counts of aggravated and extreme aggravated driving under the influence. After being charged, the defendant sold her car to pay for an attorney to represent her in criminal court. She pled guilty and was sentenced to two years of supervised probation with a 45-day jail sentence.

The sentencing order stated specifically that all but 14 days of the sentence could be suspended if the defendant put a “certified ignition interlock device” on any car she operated for a period of 12 months. This device would allow for more surveillance of the defendant’s driving and would keep her from committing the same offense again.

In 2021, the defendant’s probation officer petitioned for early termination of her probation. The State disagreed, stating that the defendant had not installed any ignition interlock device on a car and did not qualify for early termination. The defendant responded that she could not install such a device because she no longer owned a car and had not actually driven since the sentencing. The superior court terminated the defendant’s probation, and the State appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the State argued that the statute clearly stated that the defendant’s sentence could only be suspended if she installed an interlock device on her car. Because she had not installed any such device, it was inappropriate for the lower court to grant an early termination of her probation.

The higher court considered this argument but ultimately denied it. It would not make sense, said the court, for the defendant to be ineligible for early release solely because she could not afford a car. If this were the case, any defendant unable to afford a car would not qualify for an early end to probation. Thus, said the court, the State’s argument reflected an “absurd interpretation” of the statute. It was only reasonable to conclude that the defendant was indeed eligible for early release even though she had not installed the appropriate device – she could not actually install such a device, and in the meantime, she was not posing any threat to drivers on the road since she was not operating any vehicles.

With that, the court denied the State’s appeal and affirmed the early end to the defendant’s probation.

Are You Facing DUI Charges in Arizona?

If you have found yourself facing DUI charges in the state of Arizona, call us at The Law Office of James E. Novak. We bring a solid knowledge of relevant statutes and law to every case we encounter, offering you exceptional representation that ensures your rights are well protected. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 480-413-1499.

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