Quite often, criminal punishments are harsh not because they involve a lot of jail time or heavy fines, but because of the irritating hoops you have to jump through to satisfy them. It’s most common in Phoenix DUI cases, and it reaches its irritating extreme for out of state DUI defendants trying to do their jail sentence someplace else.
Come on vacation, leave on probation
It’s a common little joke around here, and in my line of work, I see it in action constantly. Whether we’re the destination for the Superbowl, a golf tournament, a biker rally, or a high school spring break field trip, we make sure our cops work around the clock so no vacationer escapes without having to respect our authoritah.
The poor guy who lives elsewhere, who comes here thinking we aren’t America’s frontier of totalitarianism and has a couple beers before making an ever so slightly wide right turn, is going to either have to satisfy his sentence where he lives or come back here to do it. The toughest part to coordinate for out-of-towners is usually the jail, which requires some other jail actually agree to house some guy for some silly jail sentence that some court in some other state with a well known reputation for stupidity handed out for what probably wouldn’t be worth a cop’s time most places.
A recent case involved a client who faced one measly little day of jail and lived in the south. With tiny counties everywhere back in his home state, I was sure one of them would take him.
Arizona wants us to punish this guy for you?
That was a typical first comment. Calling one jail after another, I’d eventually determined the best response was to explain how he’d pay out of pocket whatever they wanted. Sometimes, that led to more confusion.
So you want us to help him punish himself?
Moving on from there, the biggest source of resistance was usually getting them to wrap their head around the concept of how exactly the logistics would work. I’d explain the fingerprint sheet a cop in their county would need to do for my client, and the jail certification form. I could tell I was losing most people at that point. They’d make an offhand comment about how much effort all this was just for one guy, and I’d explain that it’s actually something fairly common here.
You mean y’all are farming out jail sentences all over the place?
The conversation ended there more than once. People elsewhere seem fine hearing about Arizona from afar and shaking their head at us, but when our state’s bad decisions begin to require the participation of people in places where public officials still have a modicum of self control and self respect, the buck stops there, apparently. Realizing I was getting nowhere, I went back to the Arizona court that was handing down the sentence and asked for some guidance.
The Beverly Hills jail will take him. It’s nice. People really like it. You can bring your own food in plastic baggies and they’ll heat it up for you.
My client, of course, was farther from Beverly Hills than he was from Arizona, and he would probably just fly back here to do it if he could afford to make it to Beverly Hills. It was still a nice suggestion from the court, and the judge’s other words of encouragement were pretty interesting.
Keep checking. Lots of people have to go to adjacent states.
I couldn’t kick the image of hordes of Arizona DUI defendants driving all over their necks of the woods soliciting local jails to find a place to serve a day, and it amused me immensely. I can imagine that, if Arizona ever decided to secede, the other states wouldn’t be that sad about it. In fact, they already ignore us. One clever idea someone suggested to make an out of state jail take my client was to see if there was any way for the Arizona court to issue an arrest warrant and then for the client to go to the local jail and get taken in on it.
We’ll probably just tell him he should really consider taking care of the warrant. It’s not worth our time arresting him.
Sadly, the out of state authorities don’t even take our warrants seriously, just like how they didn’t care about my client’s DUI license suspension, which never even showed up on their records. Although he was a smart guy and surely aware that an Arizona warrant and license suspension would likely have about the same effect on his life as Multaqa Ahl al Hadeeth’s fatwa against emoticons, he is still doing his best to find a law enforcement officer who will stick him in a cage overnight. He’s beginning to get frustrated.
Can I just do a bunch more days of home arrest? Or maybe they could heap on a bunch more fines? Or maybe I could not drive for a really long time? Or take lots of alcohol classes?
All of that would probably better serve to stop DUI in the future, but the law isn’t really about fixing things, or even logic, really. DUI laws are about DUI laws, not about stopping DUI. We want what we want because we want it. The side effect is that the pain in the ass of arranging the sentence is sometimes worse that the punishment itself.
Filed under: DUI, jail · Tags: AZ, city, classes, counseling, county, court, difficult, DUI, DWI, jail, laws, lawyer, one day, out of state, plea by mail, prison, probation, screening, surrender, ten days, warrant