DUI Brake Light Conviction tossed

“When it comes to brake lights, one is enough, at least according to the state Court of Appeals. In a unanimous decision Friday, the judges threw out the drunk driving conviction of Aaron Fikes.” — verdenews.com Weird, i’m not seeing anyone like Arizona Republic covering it; at least according to a search… I heard a short mention of it on KJZZ news.

Since the case was out of Tucson, it would have been heard in the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division Two. And sure enough, it popped right up under recent casesSTATE OF ARIZONA v. AARON RAYMOND FIKES CR20110124. Note that the driver was up on serious charges, aggravated (indicating other/previous problems; such as previous simple dui convictions, or suspension, or driving dui with a minor in the vehicle) DUI, and driving on a suspended license, for which he was sentenced to 4 months in jail and 3 years of probation.

In short, the conviction was tossed because the traffic stop was found to be without just cause, and therefore the evidence that the driver was DUI should have been supressed. The State Attorney General’s office vows appeal to Arizona Supreme Court.

It’s pretty interesting; it revolves entirely around interpretation of a Title 28 Statute, §28-939  ,regarding stop lamps; and delves into the “legislative intent” of that law. P.S. the stop lamp itself is required by another statute, §28-927. I was kind of surprised when they said “Thus, we conclude the statute is ambiguous”, referring to a sub-clause 28-939(B)(2) involving glare from a lamp. This caused a whole side-trip into the legislative intent, and legislative history of the statute.

There’s an footnote that would be of interest to anyone trying to track the legislative history of any Title 28 Transportation statutes:

Although passed in 1995, Senate Bill 1364 took effect “from and after December 31, 1996.” 1995 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 132, §§ 3, 12. One of the effects of S.B. 1364 was a renumbering of all of the Transportation Statutes. Id. (enacting current § 28-939 as A.R.S. § 28-3179). However, before S.B. 1364 took effect, the legislature passed S.B. 1076 which reverted to the old numbering but did not make any changes to the text of  § 28-939. 1996 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 76, § 18. Therefore, although S.B. 1364 is the most  recent modification, we need not consider it in our analysis.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *