Tuesday, April 17, 2007

'Breath-test machines' considered for all DUI convictions - ABC15.com: Phoenix, Arizona News, Weather, Radar, Breaking News, Traffic and Web Cams

'Breath-test machines' considered for all Arizona DUI convictions Just another example of Big Brother trting to hook all of us up to government machines: 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 below a present 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. The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Jim Waring of Phoenix, said he supported Schapira's addition to his bill - one of several DUI measure's he's sponsoring this year - as long as it doesn't jeopardize passage of the original measure. "There are a lot of victims rooting for this bill," Waring said of the stricter sentencing provisions that he said are aimed at experienced hard-core drinkers who repeatedly drink drive. Schapira, whose amendment drew bipartisan support during Thursday's floor session, said the ignition interlock requirement would augment tougher sentences, partly by taking the decision of whether somebody is fit to drive out of their hands. "We need some further deterrent," he said. "We've got to think outside the box." Cost for the devices, typically $120 for installation and $60-$70 a month for monitoring, would be borne by offenders, Schapira added. Advocates voiced support during interviews Monday. "Anything that's going to make it more difficult for people to get behind the wheel when they've been drinking just makes sense," said Dale Norris, a retired Phoenix police officer who is executive director for the Arizona Police Association. The father of Rob Targosz, a Gilbert police officer killed in a crash involving a man accused of drunken driving, said the state needs to try whatever technological means are available to combat drunken driving. "Most of these accidents occur with the repeat offenders so we' trying to do what we can to lessen the number that are lost every year," said Gene Targosz of Phoenix. The New Mexico Legislature this year expanded that state's requirement to require people who moved to New Mexico with a drunken driving conviction to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle. New Mexico's 2005 law requires interlocks for all New Mexicans convicted of drunken driving - one year of the device for a first offense, two years for a second offense, three years for a third offense and lifetime for four offenses or more.

No comments:

Blog Archive