Arizona Lawmaker Wants Penalties for Extreme DUI Drivers

Arizona State Senator Jim Waring has proposed legislation that would create a new classification of DUI offenders. It would address drunk drivers who register a very high blood alcohol content. The penalties for such an arrest would include requiring first-time DUI offenders to serve their full jail term and not permit a suspension of a sentence.

Statistically, nearly two-thirds of all accidents resulting in an alcohol related fatality involved a driver with a BAC of at least 0.15, or nearly twice the legal limit. Waring calls these drivers “dangerous.” Currently state law defines an Arizona DUI has having a BAC of 0.08 and an extreme DUI as 0.15. Waring would like a new Arizona DUI classification that would apply to drivers with a BAC of 0.20 or higher. To reach a BAC of 0.20, 150-pound person would have to drink eight alcoholic beverages in an hour.

Waring would also like to prevent judges from suspending the sentence of extreme DUI offenders. The law allows for the partial suspension of a sentence if the drunk driver completes an alcohol treatment/education program.

The Arizona State Senate Transportation Committee has approved Waring’s legislation. It has yet to be voted on by the full Senate or House of Representatives. Whereas opponents are equally interested in fighting drunk driving, they cite the financial impact of incarcerating more offenders. Most expenses associated with jailing a DUI offender would impact the budgets of local municipalities.

MADD feels that extreme Arizona DUI offenders, especially repeat alcoholic drivers, necessitate a ‘tough crackdown’ in state law.

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