Arizona DUI Convictions for under .08 Percent BAC
By: Gerri Elder
Arizona DUI lawyers have a new challenge. Prosecutors are now leaning towards jury trials in Arizona DUI cases in which the blood alcohol content of a driver is even close - within 10 percent - of the legal limit. This means that drivers who have consumed any alcohol before getting behind the wheel could be at risk for an Arizona DUI conviction.
According to an article by DUI defense lawyer Daniel Jaffe in the American Chronicle, new case law in Arizona now allows for the prosecution or the defense in an Arizona DUI case to request a trial by jury. If either side requests a jury trial, a jury will be seated for the trial.
Prosecutors know that a jury is more likely to convict an Arizona DUI suspect than a judge when the defendant has a low blood alcohol content reading; thus prosecutors have reportedly been taking advantage of this fact in order to secure Arizona DUI convictions in cases where the blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of .08 percent.
The legal drinking age in Arizona, and currently nationwide, is 21 years of age. For people under the age of 21, since it is illegal to drink, it is illegal to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. However, for people over the legal drinking age, it is not illegal to consume alcohol before driving. It is illegal to drive while impaired or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. At .08 percent BAC, experts say that all people have some degree of impairment.
Despite the fact that it is legal to consume alcohol and drive, the common public perception is that it is illegal to drive with any blood alcohol content. Highway safety campaigns from the governor's office in Arizona give credibility to this perception and prosecutors are seemingly bending Arizona DUI law to fit certain DUI cases. In the past, people who had consumed only one or two beers generally felt safe to drive afterward, but the trend in Arizona DUI prosecutions has changed that feeling for many drivers.
Although Arizona DUI laws are some of the toughest in the country, when an adult driver 21 years old or older has a blood alcohol content of .05 percent or lower, they are presumed to be sober and not impaired under the state's current DUI law.
However, prosecutors are finding that by requesting a jury trial for cases in which the blood alcohol concentration was below .08 percent, an Arizona DUI conviction can still be secured if the jury can be convinced that there was any degree of impairment.
This new strategy in prosecuting Arizona DUI cases may be controversial, but is within Arizona DUI laws.
Therefore the standard .08 percent BAC legal limit for driving really only applies when prosecutors say that it does, and that alone should make anyone who has consumed any amount of alcohol before driving fairly nervous.