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