In a new law enacted at midnight tonight, Arizona will require all first time offenders convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. The Arizona Republic Online reports that not only will 1st time offenders be required to install this device, but also, anyone whose BAC is over .20 will have a mandatory jail sentence of at least 45 days.
The article reports:
Hardest hit are first-time violators and a new class of "super extreme" DUI offenders whose blood-alcohol concentration registers 0.20 percent or above, which is more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Beginning Wednesday, new penalties include mandatory ignition-interlock devices for first-time offenders, increased fines and a minimum of 45 days in jail for super extreme DUI convictions.
Opponents to the bill point out that this will increase caseload on the AZ courts, requiring those that are accused to fight their cases.
Additionally, the article reports that like myself, some feel this is a short term or knee-jerk solution to a much larger problem.
Critics say interlock devices are expensive to maintain and provide a short-term answer to a long-term problem.
The offender pays for the device, which typically costs $100 for installation and about $80 a month to maintain. Most first-time offenders will have the device for 12 months. That cost is in addition to the more than $1,000 in fines imposed for a DUI conviction.
And studies have shown that while interlock devices are effective while in use, drivers tend to slip into old habits once the units are removed.
Texas, although not quite as extreme, has enacted many laws and statutes over time that increase the severity of DWI:
- Deferred Adjudication — The legislature took out the "deferred adjudication" option to DWI cases. This leaves a person with only two options — plea guilty, and be convicted for the rest of your life, or plea not guilty, and contest your guilty through a trial.
- Ignition Interlock — On DWI 2nds, and also DWI 1st where there is a BAC of over .15, an ignition interlock device must be installed on your vehicle.
- Surcharges — DPS requires $1,000/year for three years with any conviction to keep your license. $1,500/year for a DWI second, and $2,000/year for a BAC over .16.
I find it interesting that although on the surface some of these laws seem to crack down on "hard core" impaired drivers, you can also see that it punishes you for taking a breath test. For Arizona, no breath test means no way you go to jail for 45 days, and no way you are required to have an ignition interlock device on your car.
In Texas, refusing a breath test means no possibility of a $6,000 FINE from DPS. and no possibility of having an ignition interlock device as a requirement on your vehicle.