One of the nation’s toughest DUI laws goes into effect in Arizona this week, says the Arizona Republic. Hardest hit are first-time violators and a new class of “super extreme” DUI offenders whose blood-alcohol concentration registers 0.20 percent or above, more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Beginning today, penalties include mandatory ignition-interlock devices for first-time offenders, higher fines and at least 45 days in jail for super extreme convictions.
The law was modeled after legislation passed in New Mexico in 2005 requiring interlock devices for all people convicted of driving under the influence. Officials there linked a 4 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities to interlock use in the year after the law’s passage. DUI defense attorneys say the higher stakes will lead to increased court caseloads and an extreme inconvenience in the lives of “super extreme” and first-time offenders. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show Arizona had the nation’s sixth-highest number of alcohol-related fatalities. There were 585 in 2006, up 15 percent from 2005.