Proposed law targets repeat DUI offenders
By Dennis Welch, Tribune
Following a trail blazed by 23 other states, an Arizona lawmaker is taking action to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for those who repeatedly drink and drive.
Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, is working closely with the Arizona chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to craft a bill seeking to lower the legal limit to 0.05 from 0.08 for anyone convicted of more than one DUI in five years.
Waring said repeat offenders are a lethal problem for a state that still sees more than 400 deaths related to drunken driving each year.
"These are the people that need to be regulated. These are the people that are going to kill somebody," Waring said last week.
If passed, Arizona would become the 24th state in the country to enact a similar law, according to national statistics.
Warings bill also has no tolerance for anyone convicted of an extreme DUI which is someone convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.15.
According to the bill, anyone with the smallest trace of alcohol meaning anything above 0.00 could be arrested on suspicion of DUI if pulled over within five years of an extreme DUI conviction.
Chuck Heeman, the state executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said these types of laws have been highly effective in other parts of the country.
In the late 1980s, Maine became the first state to lower the blood alcohol limit for those with prior DUI convictions. In the first year, Heeman said, the state saw a drastic drop in crashes related to drunken driving.
"I think laws like this are a way for people who have already been caught to think again before getting behind the wheel," Heeman said.