It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people die, 200,000 people are injured, due to DUI involved collisions every year. To combat the problem, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently announced 19 recommendations to reduce DUI fatalities across the country.
A recommendation that has gained much attention is lowering the legal limit of 0.08% Blood Alcohol Limit (BAC) in all states to 0.05 percent. Currently all states have a 0.08% legal limit. At least 100 countries in the world have a 0.05% limit. A spokesperson for the NTSB reported studies that clearly show motorists with a 0.05% BAC or will experience driving impairments that include a decline in cognitive and vision functions. This increases their risk of causing or being involved in motor vehicle collisions resulting in fatality or serious injuries.
Some studies show on average a person weighing 120 pounds or under, may reach .05% BAC after just one drink of intoxicating liquor, and a person weighing 160 pounds or under may reach the 0.05% limit after only two drinks. However, this can vary by gender; metabolism rate; alcohol tolerance; food or absent food; medications; and other factors that exist.
The Board recommended including mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices on vehicles for convicted DUI offenders, before their driver’s licenses could be reinstated following reactivated following suspensions or revocations resulting from the DUI.
Also among the recommendations was to further research “passive” DUI investigational tools, such as roadside equipment that when pointed towards a suspect or area of suspicion would enable officers to detect alcohol vapor within a specified environment. Other research highlighted was on technology that automatically tests drivers through breath or contact known as a driver alcohol detection system for safety (DADSS). It is projected that this technology, if accepted could decrease fatalities by 7,000 annually.
Other recommendations included higher visibility of law enforcement, additional sobriety checkpoints, public service and media announcements, and educational programs for alcohol and substance abuse.
The NTSB has authority only to recommend changes in the laws, but it is up to the states to adopt or reject them. Among safety motivations for the states are financial incentives that exist. The states who adopt the Board’s recommendations often get additional highway funding. Those states who do not adopt the NTSB recommendations can be penalized by the withholding of Federal highway and traffic funding.
Arizona DUI Laws and Impact of Recommendations
The state of Arizona has a good number of the NTSB’s recommendations in place already, and is known to have some of the strictest laws in the country. For example, violations of DUI laws under already include mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices on vehicles for a statutory time frames following reinstatement of driver’s licenses.
The BAC legal limit in Arizona is 0.08%. However under AZ DUI Law A.R.S. 28-1381 a person can potentially be prosecuted for lower than 0.08%, if they are found to be “impaired to the slightest degree” due to drugs or alcohol. As a result drivers are often convicted of DUI with a BAC of 0.05%, or lower; and in many cases, no BAC at all. This is the case if the impairment is due to intoxicating drugs rather than spirituous liquor.
The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AHOHS) has assertively provided funds consistently and generously to further research of advanced technology to assist police officers in prevention and enforcement of DUI laws throughout the state of Arizona. For example, late last year, the City of Chandler, AZ was awarded $65,000.00 for DUI enforcement just for the year-end holiday season. Just last month Tempe Police reported it received an $80,000.00 grant for funding to enhance the DUI enforcement campaign in the City of Tempe for DUI related crimes. Earlier this year The AGOHS awarded nearly $60,000.00 to Mesa AZ Police to the prevention and enforcement of growing Drug DUI arrests, particularly in the area of DUI with synthetic drugs or bath salts.
Earlier this month, the City of Phoenix launched a large scale public education program to raise awareness about the hazards of the impaired driving. The campaign included communications and public service announcements on websites, social media, message boards, and sponsored advertising and commercials.
Chandler AZ DUI Defense Attorney
Any DUI is a criminal offense in Arizona. If you have been arrested for any type of impaired driving charges, you should consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for defense and legal representation.