So you’ve had one drink. That can’t hurt right? Wrong. In Arizona, that one drink could land you in jail. If you aren’t familiar with Arizona’s Zero Tolerance DUI law, then read on to learn more.
Passed in 2007, the law catapulted Arizona to the top of the list for strictest DUI laws. This law can get you arrested even if you register a blood alcohol level below .08. This law allows an officer to arrest you if they believe you are impaired, regardless of whether your blood alcohol level registers between a .001 and .0799. This then means spending a night in jail, paying fines, working hours of community service, installation of an ignition interlock in your vehicle, and a mandatory 90-day driver’s license suspension.
According to a WalletHub analysis, the state ranked first in having the strictest DUI laws, and second in the category of DUI Prevention for its continued employment of sobriety check points, mandatory treatment plans, and vehicle impounding, among other methods of combating DUIs. Arizona’s strict laws and the extreme punishment dished out to offenders have helped it rise to the top of the tier in terms of prevention, and has led to a much lower number of drunk driving offenses.
Apart from the exorbitant fines and the ignition interlock device installation (which requires you to be completely sober for the car to start), being issued with a DUI can land you a mandatory jail sentence ranging from 24 hours to 4 months for first time offenders, and years for subsequent offenders. The jail of choice, Tent City, was created by former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and has long been associated with inhumane treatment of inmates – as we reported earlier this year, this jail is slated to close in the near future with the new election of Sheriff Paul Penzone.
While it’s no surprise that Arizona’s harsh DUI laws have made an impact on drunk driving in the state, many believe that the punishments attached with getting a DUI have been twisted to benefit vindictive law enforcement officers and politicians, counselors, jailers, and interlock companies rather than actually helping rehabilitate offenders.
Regardless of where one stands on the issue, however, it is clear that Arizona’s DUI laws are here to stay. With that in mind, it’s crucial that drivers never get behind the wheel of their car, even if they’ve only had one, and to rely on ride-sharing companies or a close friend to get them home.