Those accused of drunk driving may regain right to jury trial - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Those accused of drunk driving may regain right to jury trial

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Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 6:08 pm

Arizonans accused of drunk driving would regain their right to a jury trial under terms of legislation approved Tuesday by the House.

The 57-3 vote reverses last year’s legislation which said cases of simple drunk driving — those charged with having a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 but have not been convicted before — could be heard by a justice of the peace. That change took effect Jan. 1.

Rep. David Smith, R-Scottsdale, argued last year’s change never really was properly discussed, saying it was tacked on to another bill. Smith also said lawmakers should repeal the change because it may be unconstitutional.

Last year’s law did not affect the right to a trial by jury for those charged with “extreme’’ DUI, meaning a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.15. The bill now goes to the Senate.

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