Arizona has a reputation for a no-nonsense attitude toward drunk driving. Part of the state’s response to the offense is the Arizona ignition interlock requirement, a measure which has been in place there since 2007. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. All people convicted of drunk driving, including first offenders, must have an interlock device installed in any vehicle they drive for a period of at least one year.

No “Waiting Out” the Requirement

After an Arizona DUI you’ll need to have the interlock installed even if you don’t own the vehicle you drive. Some offenders might want to “wait out” the requirement and not drive any vehicle for a year, but this won’t work: you will not be able to regain your driving privileges until you have given the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) proof that you have had a certified ignition interlock installed, and have used it for the required period – at least one year. This is because Arizona wants all offenders to have the documented experience of driving sober before their driving privileges are restored.

Penalties for Failure or Tampering

Another area in which Arizona is strict is in ensuring that once the interlock is on, the user abide by the rules. Your interlock provider will send regular reports to ADOT detailing the usage and test results for the device you are using. If ADOT finds failed breath tests, evidence of tampering with the device or trying to bypass it, the penalty can be an extra year placed onto your interlock requirement.

There is a myth that interlocks are easy to bypass, but in fact, it’s all but impossible– usage logs are sent to ADOT, and if they indicate that you have been driving without taking a breath test, then you will face the penalty.

Moving Out of Arizona? Take Your Interlock With You.

If you move out of state during your interlock period, you will still need to complete your interlock requirement. Arizona is a member of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, which means that 45 states have been notified of your suspension, and have agreed to treat your violation as if it had been committed within their borders. So you won’t be able to apply for driving privileges in those states. Even the other five could turn you down or require a hearing, depending on your circumstances, and in any case you would not be able to drive in Arizona.

In 2007, when ignition interlocks began being used in Arizona, there were 7,889 alcohol-related crashes. In 2014 that number dropped to 4,887. In that same time period alcohol-related road deaths dropped from 396 to 265. Several factors have brought those numbers down, but among them is Arizona’s strict policy on ignition interlock enforcement. It’s a measure that works, because the state works it.

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