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Arizona DUI Offenders Get New Mandate For Breath-Testers

Arizona DUI Offenders Get New Mandate For Breath-Testers

May 18th, 2007 @ 5:10pm by Associated Press

PHOENIX - A drunken-driving sentencing bill signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano means first-time DUI offenders will have to install and use breath-testing ignition interlocks on their vehicles for at least a year after resuming driving.

Napolitano signed the bill into law on Friday, three days after lawmakers completed action on the measure, making Arizona the only state besides New Mexico to have an interlock requirement for first-time regular DUI offenders.

A supporter of the requirement called it an alternative to fines and penalties that don't do enough to change offenders' behavior, while critics said the requirement is overkill that unfairly burdens first-time offenders.

Unless changed in subsequent legislation, the new requirement will take effect 90 days after the current session ends. That should take place this month or next.

Arizona law currently requires repeat DUI offenders or those convicted of extreme or aggravated DUI to use interlocks when their driving privileges are restored. The devices will not allow a vehicle to start if the person's alcohol content is above a certain limit.

Under the bill (SB1029), people convicted of regular DUI will be required to have an ignition interlock installed and maintained in their vehicles for at least a year. The blood-alcohol level for regular DUI is .08.

Enactment of the law came during a session that has already seen Arizona lawmakers take several steps to combat drunken driving.

Two DUI bills previously signed by Napolitano remove judges' discretion to suspend jail time for extreme DUI offenders and toughen a calculation on eligibility for aggravated-DUI penalties. Another bill signed by Napolitano increases penalties for hit-and-run accidents.

Sen. Jim Waring, a Phoenix Republican who sponsored the bill signed Friday and the two other DUI bills, said the same bills wouldn't have passed five years ago.

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