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DUI courts overhauled to be faster

DUI courts overhauled to be faster

Michael Kiefer
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 6, 2006 12:00 AM

The Arizona Supreme Court thinks it takes too long for DUI cases to get through the court system.

On Thursday, Chief Justice Ruth McGregor unveiled a series of recommendations to speed up the process.

Those recommendations lean on prosecutors, law enforcement and judges to smooth out and standardize DUI procedures and to make sure they are done in a timely fashion. And they lean on defense attorneys by cutting short some legal tactics.

"We knew there was big discrepancy in how long it took DUI cases to get through the system," McGregor said.

And so McGregor is establishing pilot programs to test new rules and timetables that may eventually become statewide rules.

Among them:

Setting firm trial dates and establishing the availability of witnesses early in the process to avoid trial delay.

Requiring defendants to attend all pretrial conferences.

Requiring law enforcement agencies to file citations within 10 days of issuing them.

Researching post-conviction treatment methods so defendants don't repeat the crime.

Training judges, court staff and probation officers in case management.

According to court statistics, nearly 38,500 driving-under-the-influence cases were filed last year in Arizona. Because most are misdemeanor offenses, they are tried or settled in "limited jurisdiction courts," that is, in municipal courts before a city judge or in the county's justice courts in front of a justice of the peace.

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