State v. Williams (1985)

In State v. Williams, 144 Ariz. 487, 488, 698 P.2d 732, 733 (1985), the Arizona Supreme Court held that notwithstanding the lack of a specified mens rea in the aggravated DUI statute, "we believe 'driving without a license' necessarily involves a 'culpable mental state.'" 144 Ariz. at 489, 698 P.2d at 734; see also Jennings, 150 Ariz. at 94, 722 P.2d at 262 ("The legislative intent to make aggravated DUI a strict liability offense is not clear."). Williams discussed the rationale for requiring proof that a defendant knew or should have known of his license suspension/revocation. 144 Ariz. at 489, 698 P.2d at 734. After recognizing that the crime of DUI does not require proof of a culpable mental state, the court stated: The suspension of a license is, however, different. A driver needs to know he does not have a license before he can be punished for driving without one even if he is driving while intoxicated, which does not require intent. There are sound policy reasons for this, from problems which could arise from mistaken identity to the possible voiding of automobile accident insurance of one who does not know his driving privileges have been suspended. . . . Considering the mistakes and errors that can occur in any administrative office the size of the Department of Transportation, the danger of unknown or mistaken suspensions is too great to allow a felony conviction to be based upon suspensions without knowledge.Id.