Monitech

Category: Law

Mandatory DUI Tests after Injury or DeathSoon every Arizona driver involved in a collision in which someone was injured or killed might have to be tested for alcohol or drugs.

The bill is informally called “Joe’s Law,” after Joseph Smith, a Phoenix teenager who was killed in a crash on Interstate 10. Because the semi driver responsible was never tested, it is not known whether or not alcohol or drugs were involved.

As a result, no charges were filed against the driver.

When drivers are not tested in such circumstances, it is not just the families of the victims who are cheated out of the knowledge of what really happened. The state and federal governments also keep statistics on crashes, impaired driving and road deaths, and those need to be accurately reported to be useful. When DUI tests aren’t performed, the statistics aren’t as accurate as they should be. Considering how many decisions on DUI law are based on crash data, it’s vitally important that no impaired drivers slip by.

The bill, Senate Bill 1054, is an amendment to the state’s statutes involving traffic accidents. If passed, it will rule that anyone who drives gives implied consent to DUI tests if they are involved in a traffic accident resulting in death or serious injury.

The bill recently was unanimously approved by a 7-member panel and will now move to the Senate. The passing of Joe’s Law will mean more and better information going into the decisions that help make Arizona’s – and the nation’s  – roads safer.

Arizona drink serving ageIn the US, 18-year-olds can’t buy alcohol anywhere. Anywhere.

They can drink alcohol in some states. Believe it or not quite a few states allow minors to consume alcohol with parents’ consent in a private home. And even without parental consent in some places. Laws are confusing.

But Arizona has, up till now, been pretty strict. You can’t drink if you’re under 21 (unless it’s for religious or medical purposes), and you can’t serve alcohol unless you’re at least 19 years old.

Now an Arizona legislator would like to lower the Arizona drink serving age to 18.

The rationale of HB2947 is a time-honored one: at 18 you’re old enough to fight and die for your country. Shouldn’t you be old enough to make a living serving drinks at a restaurant?

While Rep. Jeff Weninger (R-Chandler) considers 18-year-olds legal adults, not everyone is comfortable with the idea. For one thing, there’s a bit more to serving drinks than placing glasses on a table. A server has to be able to judge when a customer is impaired and be able to cut him or her off. Some people are not so sure 18 is old enough to be able to handle that responsibility.

The counter-argument is that 18 is an important age to be entering the workforce, and server jobs are good opportunities for young people looking to support themselves. A substantial number of jobs are now closed to 18-year-olds because they involve alcohol.

The bill gets a hearing today before the House Commerce Committee.

driving with marijuana in your system: legal in Arizona?Complex as alcohol and drunk driving issues are, they can seem simple compared with the challenges that marijuana poses to the legal system. A recent Arizona Court of Appeals decision highlights just how different the two drugs are.

In December the court ruled that medical marijuana patients arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis can contest DUI charges by claiming that they were not too high to operate a vehicle.

It’s a can of worms all right: unlike drivers arrested for being under the influence of booze, those driving with marijuana in their systems who have a medical excuse can claim that they were not impaired to drive. The burden of proving impairment will be on the prosecution.

A breathalyzer gives objective of the amount of alcohol in a person’s system, and that amount has been correlated to impairment. It’s generally agreed that a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 is too impaired to drive.

No such standard of impairment exists for marijuana yet. Moreover, the drug will stay in the system for days after impairment has vanished, making it difficult to use blood tests for evidence. While no one seriously disputes that pot can make a driver dangerous, it’s been hard establishing links between amounts consumed and impairment. For one thing, pot can be eaten or smoked, which can affect a person differently. Even if the amount taken in is measured carefully, the amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s active ingredient) in the blood is hard to correlate to a specific degree of impairment.

Another complication is that marijuana is prescribed by doctors for a number of conditions. On its own that is no excuse for a DUI: you can be arrested for driving under the influence of any prescription drugs which affects your driving ability. But the increasing availability and medical use of marijuana, combined with legal uncertainty of how to prosecute, will doubtless cause confusion in the courts.

What we end up with is a can of worms – complicated cases, dismissals, appeals, and law enforcement officers who are unsure of how to proceed because cases involving driving with marijuana in one’s system are getting thrown out right and left. Eventually it will all be worked out, but not for a while. Meanwhile, Arizona and other states will have to feel their way forward and try to keep the roads safe somehow.

Using-Monitech-Ignition-InterlockMany traffic laws are passed out of an urgent need to improve public safety, and we’re often impatient to see results. But it takes time to prove the effects of such laws.

So it has been with ignition interlock laws. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Arizona passed an all-offender ignition interlock law in 2007. From then all, all DUI offenders – including first offenders – had to install the device in their vehicle. After that, the public had to wait to see if this measure did indeed take repeat drunk drivers off the road and reduce alcohol-related road collisions and deaths.

The results were dramatic – a drop of more than 40 percent. But would it last? Recently the research website axlegeek studied data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find out which cities and states had the most alcohol-related vehicle deaths.

The findings were pretty interesting:

  • The cities that had more alcohol-related road deaths than the national average tended to be smaller to medium-sized. Lack of public transportation is a likely cause.
  • Cities with rural characteristics also had more alcohol-related road fatalities. Worse roads, worse driving habits, and sketchier policing all play a part. Knowing that a patrol won’t be around makes drinking and driving more likely.

What was striking about Arizona was the change since 2007, when the state’s ignition interlock law was passed.

Alcohol-related fatalities hit a peak of 8.34 per 100,000 people in 2006, and they were at their lowest point in 2014 with 2.97 per 100,000 people

It was more than just ignition interlocks, of course: driver education, better law enforcement, and public awareness all played a part.  But clearly something took a turn in 2007, and it’s very reasonable to conclude that from that year on, convicted drunk drivers were not able to start their vehicles. They had a “time out” during which they could obtain counseling and deal with their alcohol issues. Those who reoffended had their interlock period extended.

Road safety is a numbers game, and in Arizona, the alcohol-related fatality numbers have  been looking  better over the years. Will it continue? That’s up to the public and the enlightened public officials who got this ignition interlock law enacted, and who can now work on seeing that that it is better enforced.

dwi-offenders-use-ignition-interlock

Ignition Interlock technology helps prevent repeat DWIs

Repeat DWI offenders are scary people. Once arrested, fined, and even jailed, they get back on the road despite the alcohol in their veins, and as a result they become extremely dangerous.

Like many states, North Carolina has a repeat DWI problem that it hasn’t fully addressed. Each year alcohol takes the lives of around 380 North Carolinians on the state’s roads – about a third of all road deaths. This carnage costs the state close to $2 billion. However, this could change for the better if two laws were passed.

Felony DWI – Should 2 Be Enough?

One way to handle such problems is to make DWI a felony – a crime punishable by a considerable jail term – after a certain number of convictions. Some states make the second DWI a felony, some a third. In North Carolina, one must get to four DWI convictions before felony charges are imposed.  That strikes public safety advocates as too lenient.

Last year an attempt was made to pass a bill which would have made DWI a felony after 2 prior convictions. It did not make it through the Senate, however.

 Ignition Interlocks – Needed for All DWI Offenders

One major change North Carolina could make would be to mandate ignition interlocks for all DWI offenses. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Right now 27 states have laws which require all DWI offenders, including first offenders, to install the device.  North Carolina orders the device for second offenses, and for first offenders only if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over .15. A bill that would extend interlocks to everyone convicted of DWI, HB 877/SB 619, did not make it through the short session of Congress.

For some, mandating the devices for all offenders seems like an extreme step, but in fact, the practice is known to reduce alcohol-related road fatalities significantly. Unlike jail, an interlock does not totally disrupt an offender’s life, and makes it easier, not harder, to obtain treatment and get one’s life back on track.

Another concern is the toll the increased interlock orders would make on the state, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) North Carolina notes that the structure is in place to extend interlocks to all DWIs. “North Carolina is ready for this to take place,” says LaRonda Scott, State Executive Director of MADD North Carolina. “It will significantly reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in our state.”

Ignition interlock providers here have agreed to waive installation fees. In addition, service centers are in place across North Carolina for convenient access.

MADD is hoping that the bill will continue its journey to the Governor’s desk next year, when the Assembly reconvenes.

Drunk drivers don’t change, so laws have to. The past few decades have shown what strong, well-enforced legislation can do to reduce the toll of impaired driving on our roads. It’s time for North Carolina to take these two next steps to save even more lives.

This article on Arizona DUI penalties comes from Gordon Thompson, a Phoenix
DUI/DWI & Criminal Defense Attorney. It previously appeared on his firm’s blog.

Arizona DUI penaltiesArizona has what are probably the harshest Misdemeanor DUI sentencing penalties and laws in the country.  A guide to a summary of those penalties are:

28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.1, Driving Under the Influence or 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.2, Driving, With an Alcohol Level of .08% or More, First Offense:

For a violation of 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.1, Driving Under the Influence or 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.2, Driving, With an Alcohol Level of .08% or More, the maximum penalty is up to six (6) months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus surcharges, and up to five (5) years of probation. The minimum penalties are:

  1. Alcohol Abuse Screening and any treatment/counseling ordered therefrom, which you must pay for. In addition, the screening service may order you to attend at least 1 M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel;
  2. 10 consecutive days in jail, 9 of which may be suspended by the court provided you complete the screening and counseling;
  3. $250 fine plus surcharges;
  4. Pay jail costs in an amount not to exceed $257 for the day;
  5. Pay a State Prison Construction assessment of $500;
  6. Pay a State General Fund assessment of $500;
  7. Pay restitution to the victim of the accident for their economic loss. Pursuant to a decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals, “economic loss” includes wages lost by victims while they come to court for the case.

Additionally the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive may be suspended and/or revoked for up to 2 years, and a certified ignition interlock may be required for up to 21 months.

28 A.R.S. § 1381.A, Driving Under the Influence or 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.2, Driving, With an Alcohol Level of .08% or More, Second Offense in Seven Years:

For a second violation of 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.1, Driving Under the Influence or 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.2, Driving, With an Alcohol Level of .08% or More, the maximum penalty is up to six (6) months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus surcharges, and up to five (5) years of probation.

The minimum penalties are:

  1. Alcohol Abuse Screening and any treatment/counseling ordered therefrom, which you must pay for. In addition, the screening service may order you to attend at least 1 M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel;
  2. 90 consecutive days in jail, 60 of which may be suspended by the court provided you complete the screening and counseling;
  3. $500 fine plus surcharges;
  4. Jail costs in an amount not to exceed $199 for the first day and $74 per each remaining day;
  5. Pay a State Prison Construction assessment of $1,250;
  6. Pay a State General Fund assessment of $1,250;
  7. Surrender driver’s license to the court and/or receive a one year license revocation;
  8. Perform thirty (30) hours of community service;
  9. Pay restitution to the victim of the accident for their economic loss. Pursuant to a decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals, “economic loss” includes wages lost by victims while they come to court for the case.

Additionally the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive may be suspended and/or revoked for up to 2 years, and a certified ignition interlock may be required for up to 21 months.

28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.1, Extreme Driving Under the Influence With an Alcohol Level Above .15%, First Offense:

For a violation of 28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.1, Extreme Driving Under the Influence With an Alcohol Level Above .15%, the maximum penalty is up to six (6) months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus surcharges, and up to five (5) years of probation. The minimum penalties are:

  1. Alcohol Abuse Screening and any treatment/counseling ordered therefrom, which you must pay for. In addition, the screening service may order you to attend at least 1 M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel;
  2. 30 consecutive days in jail, 21 of which may be suspended by the court provided you complete the screening and counseling and install an ignition interlock device (IID) in a motor vehicle for 12 months;
  3. $250 fine plus surcharges;
  4. Pay jail costs in an amount not to exceed $257 for the first day and $74 for each additional day;
  5. Pay a Driving Under the Influence assessment of $250;
  6. Pay a State Prison Construction assessment of $1,000;
  7. Pay a State General Fund assessment of $1,000;
  8. Pay restitution to the victim of the accident for their economic loss. Pursuant to a decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals, “economic loss” includes wages lost by victims while they come to court for the case.

Additionally the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive may be suspended and/or revoked for up to 2 years, and a certified ignition interlock may be required for up to 21 months.

28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.1, Extreme Driving Under the Influence With an Alcohol Level of.15% or More, Second Offense in Seven Years:

For a second violation of 28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.1, Extreme Driving Under the Influence with an Alcohol Level of .15% or More, the maximum penalty is up to six (6) months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus surcharges, and up to five (5) years of probation. The minimum penalties are:

  1. Alcohol Abuse Screening and any treatment/counseling ordered therefrom, which you must pay for. In addition, the screening service may order you to attend at least 1 M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel;
  2. 120 consecutive days in jail (none suspended);
  3. $500 fine plus surcharges;
  4. Pay jail costs in an amount not to exceed $199 for the first day and $74 for each additional day;
  5. Pay a Driving Under the Influence assessment of $250;
  6. Pay a State Prison Construction assessment of $1,250;
  7. Pay a State General Fund assessment of $1,250;
  8. Surrender driver’s license, if any, to the court;
  9. Perform thirty (30) hours of community service;
  10. Pay restitution to the victim of the accident for their economic loss. Pursuant to a decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals, “economic loss” includes wages lost by victims while they come to court for the case.

Additionally the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive may be suspended and/or revoked for up to 2 years, and a certified ignition interlock may be required for up to 21 months.

28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.2, Extreme Driving Under the Influence With an Alcohol Level of .20% or More, First Offense:

  1. Alcohol Abuse Screening and any treatment/counseling ordered therefrom, which you must pay for. In addition, the screening service may order you to attend at least 1 M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel;
  2. 45 consecutive days in jail, 31 of which may be suspended by the court provided you complete the screening and counseling and install an ignition interlock device (IID) in a motor vehicle for 12 months;
  3. $500 fine plus surcharges;
  4. Pay jail costs in an amount not to exceed $257 for the first day and $74 for each additional day;
  5. Pay a Driving Under the Influence assessment of $250;
  6. Pay a State Prison Construction assessment of $1,000;
  7. Pay a State General Fund assessment of $1,000;
  8. Pay restitution to the victim of the accident for their economic loss. Pursuant to a decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals, “economic loss” includes wages lost by victims while they come to court for the case.

Additionally the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive may be suspended and/or revoked for up to 2 years, and a certified ignition interlock may be required for up to 27 months.

28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.2, Extreme Driving Under the Influence with an Alcohol Level of .20% or More, Second Offense:

The maximum penalty is up to six (6) months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00 plus surcharges, and up to five (5) years of probation. The minimum penalties are:

  1. Alcohol Abuse Screening and any treatment/counseling ordered therefrom, which you must pay for. In addition, the screening service may order you to attend at least 1 M.A.D.D. Victim Impact Panel;
  2. 180 consecutive days in jail (none suspended);
  3. $1,250 fine plus surcharges;
  4. Pay jail costs in an amount not to exceed $199 for the first day and $74 for each additional day;
  5. Pay a Driving Under the Influence assessment of $250;
  6. Pay a State Prison Construction assessment of $1,250;
  7. Pay a State General Fund assessment of $1,250;
  8. Surrender driver’s license, if any, to the court;
  9. Perform thirty (30) hours of community service;
  10. Pay restitution to the victim of the accident for their economic loss. Pursuant to a decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals, “economic loss” includes wages lost by victims while they come to court for the case.

Additionally the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive may be suspended and/or revoked for up to 2 years, and a certified ignition interlock may be required for up to 33 months.

If you have any questions about this Guide to a summary of Arizona Misdemeanor DUI Penalties & Sentencing Laws, please call me.

If you’ve been charged with DUI or another criminal offense, getting help from an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is one of the best things you can do for your case. Gordon Thompson has been practicing criminal and DUI law since 1979, and has used his vast experience to help countless people charged with DUI and other criminal offenses get the best result. Call Gordon Thompson now, 24/7, so he can put his many years of experience to use and help you get the best result for your DUI or criminal case.

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