If you follow football, you know that this Sunday is bringing the country the NFC Championship Game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. Even if you don’t follow the game, word might have gotten to you that something big is up that concerns these two states.
There are plenty of ways to compare the teams’ home states of North Carolina and Arizona. On this blog, what matters is how those states work to prevent drunk driving. Who’s got the better game plan? Who’s carrying the ball?
Fortunately, someone’s keeping track of this vital information: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The organization, which works for better drunk driving legislation and the rights of drunk driving victims, tracks all 50 US states and their efforts to fight impaired driving. Here are the results:
Arizona: 5 Stars
Arizona hits all the marks when it comes to fighting drunk driving. The 5 stars stand for:
- Ignition Interlocks for All Drunk Driving offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Some states require the devices for repeat offenses, or high-BAC offenses (e.g. blood alcohol concentration over 1.5), but Arizona mandates that all offenders use them to prevent drunk driving for a given time period.
- Sobriety Checkpoints: Arizona allows police to stop drivers at checkpoints using well-defined rules. Checkpoints have been known to lower DUI rates, both by catching impaired drivers, and by increasing law enforcement visibility.
- Child Endangerment. Like most states, Arizona has a law which imposes strict penalties on anyone driving drunk with a child.
- No-Refusal. If drivers are not allowed to refuse a breath test, either by law or during a special no-refusal event, the number of DUI offenders overall goes down.
- Administrative License Revocation. Arizona immediately confiscates the licenses of drivers arrested for drunk driving. This practice is a deterrent which deters impaired drivers and reduces fatalities.
North Carolina: 4 Stars
North Carolina matches Arizona in all of its anti-DUI efforts except in one area: it does not require all drunk drivers to install ignition interlocks. Currently the devices are only required for repeat offenders, or for first offenders who are extremely drunk at the time of arrest. There is a bill under consideration – HB 877/SB 619 – which would require the devices for all offenders. That would mean that anyone who made the bad decision to drink and drive would, for a time, be unable to start their vehicle if they were in no shape to drive it. Lives would be saved, and people with alcohol incentives would have both the incentive and the mobility to seek treatment.
We don’t know the outcome of this Sunday’s North Carolina vs Arizona game. But we do know that both states are almost evenly matched in terms of their efforts to take drunk drivers off the roads. All North Carolina needs to do is complete one pass at an all-offender ignition interlock law, and the score will be tied.