Arizona Relaxes Ignition Interlock Law

As of January 1, drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for their first time will receive a lighter sentence. The new state law requires first-time offenders to keep an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for six months instead of a year.

Arizona has required some DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices since 2001. In 2007, it broadened the law to include all offenders.

Sen. Linda Gray, who had long been an advocate of tough drunk driving laws, proposed the change. She said that six months is long enough to teach a first-time offender a lesson.

Safety groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving opposed the lighter punishment, but said that they will delay taking any action until they determine if DUI fatalities increase as a result of the change.

Ignition Interlocks

Ignition interlocks are commonly used in many states as a punishment and deterrent for drunk driving offenders. The interlock device is about the size of a cellphone and is connected to the vehicle's ignition. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must blow into the device. If the device detects alcohol on the driver's breath, it prevents the engine from starting.

While driving, the driver must submit to rolling retests at random times by giving additional breath samples. If a breath sample exceeds a certain blood alcohol level, the device records the event and causes the vehicle's lights to flash and horn to honk until the vehicle is turned off or a clean breath sample is given.

In addition, each device can detect and record efforts to tamper with the device or disconnect it from the car's electrical system. Each month, users must report to a service center to have the device's data downloaded and monitored. If any violations are detected, a report will be issued to the user's probation officer.

Arizona, like in most states, requires offenders to be financially responsible for the installation and maintenance of the device. The devices cost about $120 to install and $80 per month to maintain.

A conviction for drunk driving in Arizona can have serious financial and legal repercussions. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it is important to present a strong defense. An experienced DUI attorney can protect your rights and put together an effective defense based on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

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