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A man in his car with a breathalyzer
Many states have enacted legislation to put a halt to alcohol impaired driving fatalities and violations in recent years, but Arizona is taking a step further than the bunch, primarily with its strict application of ignition interlock laws. Arizona Interlock Device, commonly called an IID, is a device that is affixed to the ignition of a vehicle and is capable of testing the driver’s blood alcohol level prior to starting the vehicle. Working in a fashion similar to that of a breathalyzer, the driver must blow into the machine in order to start the vehicle and must continue to do so to keep the car in motion. In the event that the device senses alcohol in the drivers system, the car will either not start or shut down if already in motion. 15 states have provisions concerning ignition interlock devices that are automatically triggered for individuals who are charged with a DUI and have their license suspended or revoked, even if it is the driver’s first offense. What differs from state to state is the severity of the punishment and how they are enforced. Most states imposing the interlock law do so in cases where a driver has a blood alcohol level passed a certain threshold or has a certain number of DUI offenses. DUI extends to some substances other than alcohol as well. Arizona passed its All Offense Interlock Law in 2007, a law much stricter than those in most states, creating mandatory provision applying to all offenders; effectively decreasing alcohol impaired driving deaths by 46 percent since its enactment. While rather strict in its application, Arizona’s ignition interlock law gives those who are required to have their vehicle fitted with an IID the ability to still operate a vehicle and go about their daily lives and not be burdened with the inability to drive for an extended period of time. This is possible because Arizona issues a special ignition interlock restricted driver’s license for drivers required to use the device. When an individual has their license suspended or revoked for a first DUI offense, regardless of the origin of the suspension so long as it is related to a first DUI offense, they can apply for this special license, the only caveat is when they can apply in regards to timing, which varies depending on the origin of the revocation or suspension. The license lasts for the duration of the suspension or revocation. The device safeguards the driver from committing a second offense by requiring that their blood alcohol level be at a legal range before operating any vehicle they own. Whenever an individual who is required to have the device installed has a “recurrence”, or operates a vehicle while under the influence, the device logs the event. The penalty system is akin to baseball wherein the driver gets three strikes, the third time that the device detects alcohol on the breath of the driver, the time period for the driver to have the device equipped, which is 12 months for first offense drivers with a blood alcohol level above 0.08, restarts. Given that in most states, individuals are not checked on a daily basis for compliance to ensure proper use of the interlock device and as one could imagine, many individuals attempt to circumvent the system by either driving another vehicle, one that is not registered to them, or by attempting to in some way, shape, or form tamper with the device. To do so is against the law. Unfortunately, many states do not conduct unannounced checks, but Arizona is one of the few states with strict enforcement and regularly performs unannounced checks, especially in scenarios where it is warranted; making Arizona one of the safest states in regards to enforcement of and deterrence of alcohol impaired driving. For additional information regarding Arizona DUI laws and ignition interlock devices, please contact The Law Office of Edwards & Petersen today!
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