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State considers changing law for first-time DUI offenders

So often, it takes a good example of legislative change to be set in one state before lawmakers in North Carolina and other states decide to take up the fight for similar legislation. Such a legislative example is currently in the works in Arizona to show mercy towards those who have made a once-in-a-lifetime mistake.

Senate Bill 1200 is making its way through committees and into the Arizona Senate with its supporters' goal being to give first-time DUI offenders a chance to have their sentences lessened if they demonstrate good behavior. The proposal has stirred up passionate debate in the state.

Drunk driving usually evokes heightened emotional responses among people, including members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). But the proponents of SB 1200 claim that the proposed change would not affect the progress that the state has seen in the rate of DUI fatalities.

What change does the bill propose? According to sources, SB 1200 only focuses on those sentenced for a DUI first offense. Currently, anyone who is convicted of drunk driving, including first-time offenders, must have an ignition interlock device in his or her car for at least a year following a conviction. SB 1200 would decrease that minimum time to six months, but only if the first-time offenders completed the education or treatment required of them.

Opponents against the change argue that DUI offenders need more time to learn from their mistakes. They say that the interlock device helps keep the roads safe while those offenders learn their lessons. But the bill's supporters argue that first-time drunk drivers aren't a significant risk compared to other DUI cases. The bill would still require them to get the drug and/or alcohol education they need but also give them a chance to more quickly be recognized as "good citizens" after making up for their rare mistakes.

We will post an update when there is news about whether the bill succeeds or fails in the Arizona Senate. Do you think the change in law sounds like a good idea?

Source: Azfamily.com: "Senate to consider measure to reduce use of ignition interlock device for first-time DUI offenders" Catherine Holland, 8 Feb. 2011

2 Comments

In December 2011, Arizona reduced their law requiring first time offenders to install an interlock system from 1, year to 6, months. Arizona's State Sen. Gray has said, "she believes six months is long enough to teach first-time offenders a lesson, particularly such an expensive one".

I truly agree and think its time North Carolina get on board with this concept, especially since there are few states who require this of first time offenders. I think after paying for classes, the evaluation cost, community service, court fees and lawyer fees, six months is long enough. With the economy in dire straights people can't afford to pay out the installation fee $280.00, and monthly $60, or even gas cost to appointments. Why should a person go bankrupt and be ruined? I don't think every person across the board should be treated the same. I had not so much as a speeding ticket in 12 years. I just made a bad decision at 39, after loosing my job, and I'm still unemployed.

Now that Gov. Purdue is not running, it may be a good time to start writing our representatives, or a petition. I'm including those people for you, and I will do the same. Congressman Brad Miller, Richard Burr US Senator of NC, and Senator Kay Hagen. You can email them on their website.

I have never done this before, so any assistance, or feed back is much appreciate. If your going to post your opinion about not changing the law, please don't I'm not interested. There are people who have committed worse crimes and gotten off with less. The link to the Arizona law change is below.

12/26/2011 9:52:00 PM
State: New DUI law to relax interlock device requirement
Associated Press
PHOENIX - Arizona residents convicted of drunken driving for the first time will get a slightly gentler sentence beginning Sunday.

A new state law will require first-time offenders to keep an ignition-interlock device on their vehicle for six months instead of the current yearlong requirement.
posted on NMA motorist.org

Heres an idea. Dont want to pay the money? Dont drive drunk! Heres another idea. You like Arizona's law? Move to Arizona!

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