New Bill May Ease Arizona’s Tough DUI Laws

A new bill before the Arizona legislature aims to ease tough DUI laws that put in place in 2001, when Arizona passed a rule that established a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent as the legal limit within the state.

Since then, the DUI laws have become even tougher. Presently, first-time offenders face at least ten days in jail, fines of $250 or more, and if they blow a .15 percent BAC or higher, the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for an entire year. The ignition interlock device is connected to the car's starter; a driver must pass a breathalyzer test attached to the device before it unlocks the ignition and allows the car to be turned on. The ignition interlock device has an initial cost of $90, plus a $50 monthly charge.

Some lawmakers in Arizona are reconsidering the state's brutal stance against first-time DUI offenders. Surprisingly, the champion of Arizona's current DUI laws is also leading the charge against them: Senator Linda Gray.

Gray believes that the current law is too harsh on first-time offenders. Her bill reduces the time first-time offenders are required to install the ignition interlock devices from one year to six months. Gray claims that presently only 30 percent of first-time offenders even qualify for the interlock devices.

Gray's bill also introduces a penalty for those offenders who do not fulfill their sentences. Those individuals who fail to pay, serve jail time, or install the interlock devices would be unable to renew their vehicle registration.

Gray's bill has some supporters, including David Burnell Smith, a DUI defense attorney. He claims that Arizona cannot claim that ignition interlock devices are solely responsible for the 46 percent drop in DUI fatalities. He cites aggressive law enforcement and drunk driving education as major contributors to the reduction in DUI fatalities.

If Gray's bill passes in the senate, Arizona's first-time DUI offenders will face revised DUI laws that will ease the bite of current laws.

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