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Arizona legislators mull over interlocks for all DUI offenders

Arizona legislators mull over interlocks for all DUI offenders

Eloy Enterprise | April 19, 2007

PHOENIX - In a move welcomed by advocates for tougher laws against drunken driving, Arizona legislators are moving toward requiring DUI offenders to use ignition interlocks for at least a year when resuming driving after first convictions.

The House is poised to vote on a DUI sentencing bill recently amended to add a requirement that convicted DUI offenders equip their vehicles with the breath-test devices to analyze a person's blood-alcohol content.

The ignition interlock system will not allow a vehicle's ignition to operate if the person's alcohol content is above a certain limit.

"It'll more or less get the weapons out of the hands of the drunk driver," said Ericka Espino, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Arizona. "We try and educate people about the effects of drunk driving and the laws and some of the penalties, but unfortunately it's not working."

If the requirement for first-time DUI offenders is enacted, Arizona would be following the lead of New Mexico. That state adopted a similar mandate in 2005.

Arizona already requires that some DUI offenders use ignition interlocks when their driving privileges are restored but not for first offenders of regular DUI.

The House on Thursday approved an amendment by Democratic Rep. David Schapira to add the broadened ignition interlock requirement to a Senate-passed bill of DUI sentencing. Among other provisions, the bill would require 45 days of consecutive jail time for first-time extreme DUI offenders with blood-alcohol content of .20 or higher.

Arizona's limits are .08 for regular DUI and .15 for extreme DUI.

Currently, a first-time extreme DUI conviction requires 30 consecutive days of jail, but a judge can suspend all but 10 of the 30 days.

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