Right to a DUI Jury Trial in Arizona
In Arizona, you have an absolute right to a jury trial for ANY DUI offense. That statement is true if you are charged with a Felony DUI, an Extreme DUI, or just a regular first time DUI offense. To get a jury trial for a misdemeanor offense you must make a demand for a Jury Trial in a timely fashion.
Most criminal defendants charged with a misdemeanor are not entitled to a jury trial unless one is required under common law or unless the offense is specifically enumerated by statute to be eligible for a jury trial offense. Fortunately, under A.R.S. 28-1381(F) a defendant charged with a regular first time DUI or more serious crime is entitled to a trial by jury.
At the Arraignment, the court shall inform the defendant that the defendant may request a trial by jury and that the request, if made, shall be granted. – Arizona Revised Statutes 28-1381(F).
A request for a jury trial is made with the Court, usually with the assistance of an attorney who files a formal “Demand for Jury Trial” with the clerk of the court. A trial by a jury of one's peers is a fundamental right that ensures our system of due process. Having the assistance of a lawyer of your choice is also a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
In 2011, the Arizona legislature, without public comment or debate, changed the law to take away the right to jury trial for first-time offenders. Fortunately, that right was quickly restored only four months later with HB 2284 in April of 2012 affirming that all Arizonans have the right to a trial by Jury for a DUI offense.