In 2021 there will be Big Changes Coming to Calculating Jail Time that will Result in More Jail for DUI Defendants
The Arizona legislature has made a big change to calculating credit for time served for Arizona DUI defendants. Per the newly passed statute A.R.S. 28-1446 that goes into effect later this year, a DUI defendant must serve a minimum of 8 hours in jail before they can be given credit for a day served. This effectively ends the common practice whereby judges gave 1 day credit for every calendar day in jail regardless of how many hours spent in jail. This is going to result in some major changes to how much actual jail time DUI defendants must serve.
DUI Defendants are Unlikely to Get any Credit for the Night in Jail After their Arrest.
Many jurisdictions routinely place DUI Defendants in a holding cell the night of their arrest. They are processed, booked, photographed and then typically given a citation and release or see a judge for release conditions. The whole process takes a few hours. As DUI Defendants were in “jail” during this process, many Judges will routinely credit a DUI defendant with at least one day of jail served. Some Judges will give credit for two “days” in jail if the booking process happened to begin on one day but ended on the next. A.R.S. 28-1446 ends this practice. The Statute states to receive credit, you must serve at least eight consecutive hours in a single day. Under this new rule, the typical DUI defendant will not spend enough time in custody to meet this 8-hour minimum threshold. As a result, DUI defendants will have to effectively go back to jail a second time to serve their minimum 8 consecutive hours.
The new 8 consecutive hour minimum requirement will lead to arbitrary and uneven outcomes.
The new 8 consecutive hour minimum will lead to some unfair outcomes. Take these three examples.
- Defendant #1: is arrested for DUI and taken to jail at 4 pm on a Friday. He gets booked, sees a Judge in the morning, posts bond, and is processed out on Saturday at 8 am. Defendant #1 served a total of 16 hours but would get credit for 2 days served as he served 8 hours on Friday and 8 hours on Saturday.
- Defendant #2: is arrested for DUI taken to jail at 4:01 pm. He also gets booked and sees a judge in the morning. Only this time, Defendant #2 has trouble posting bail and has to wait until 5:01 pm on Saturday before he is released. Defendant #2 spent a total of 25 hours in jail but only gets credit for 1 day due to only serving 7 hours and 59 minutes on Friday and 17 hours and 1 minute on Saturday.
- Defendant #3: is arrested at 11 pm and released at 7 am the next day, this Defendant spent 8 consecutive hours in jail but gets no credit for time served, as the 8 hours was spread over two days instead of a single day.
In these examples, 3 defendants who all would have normally received 2 days credit will instead receive anywhere from zero to 2 days depending solely on what time of day they were arrested. How much jail time someone gets credit for should not turn on arbitrary factors such as how close to midnight the arrest takes place, but unless this law is modified, this is the new reality for calculating DUI jail time.
More Jail Time Means Higher Costs and Backlogs
Judges and prosecutors routinely gave credit for time served as an incentive for DUI Defendants to not fight their charges and plead guilty. Similarly, jails would often release defendants after an hour or two to avoid the added expenses of feeding prisoners and relieving overcrowding. Without the benefit of getting credit for time served, a lot more DUI Defendants will have nothing to lose by contesting their charges. This is will further burden an already backlogged Court system with more jury trials, contribute to jail overcrowding, and ultimately, cost the taxpayers more money with no proof this will lower the overall rate of DUI incidents. This money could be better spent on rideshare programs and education to lower DUI rates across the state. Instead, it will be wasted to inconvenience thousands of DUI offenders.