Health & Safety

June 28, 2012

Driving impaired isn’t worth it

By Amy Sunseri
Staff Writer

On Wednesday, people across the United States will celebrate the 4th of July. For some, alcohol consumption plays a big part in celebrating the holiday. However, those who drink should do so responsibly. Otherwise, what should be a day of celebration could wind up differently.

One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime, according to statistics provided by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization. In the state of Arizona, there is zero tolerance for driving a vehicle while impaired.

“A lot of people are fixed on that you have to have a BAC (blood alcohol content) above .08 [percent to be considered impaired], but in Arizona if you’re impaired at all regardless of what your BAC is, you can be cited,” explained Sgt. Scott Hadfield, senior traffic collision investigator on Fort Huachuca.

If a person is under 21 and has any alcohol detected in their system while driving a motor vehicle, it’s an automatic Driving Under the Influence citation in the state of Arizona.

According to MADD, teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

So, what exactly is a DUI?

“A DUI is anything that is ingested into the body that impairs the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely,” stated Hadfield.

The impairment can come from many things that can be ingested, from mouth wash to cough syrup, prescription medication or drugs. It can come from anything that would impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, Hadfield added.

The consequences for a DUI in the state of Arizona and on Fort Huachuca are not worth the risk. If one is cited for a DUI on post, that person will lose their license for a minimum of one year; off-post it is a minimum of 90 days, and there’s also potential jail time.

“If it’s your first offense you’re looking at 10 days in jail; if you have a BAC above .15 [percent] it is 30 days in jail. If you have a second DUI, then it’s a mandatory 90 days in jail. Third DUI within 84 months falls under the aggravated DUI statue which means you also become a registered felon and get a record. You’re also required to have SR22 insurance, which basically means that you’re a high-risk person to insure, therefore you’ll have higher insurance [costs],” explained Hadfield.

The vehicle will also be impounded immediately. Its owner will have to pay the towing and storage fees.

About two to three years ago the state of Arizona enacted a law that any person convicted of a DUI has to place a certified ignition interlock device onto their vehicle for one year. Before the vehicle will start, the driver has to blow into the device, like they would do into a breathalyzer. If any alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.

“Normally this device costs $125 for installation and $75 a month for the rental fee. This isn’t including the court fines,” Hadfield said.

The individual’s driver’s license will also include a statement that he or she has a certified ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. If the driver is impaired and has a sober individual blow into the device to start their vehicle and they get pulled over, the impaired driver will be arrested for being in violation of restrictions. The sober individual who blew into the device could potentially be cited as well.

According to MADD, “drunk driving costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year.”

If a person is pulled over and cited for a DUI while driving with a person under the age of 15 in the vehicle, this is a class 4 felony which will result in prison time of one year or more if convicted, said Hadfield.

”It’s just not worth it. Call a friend — call a cab to take you home,” Hadfield urged.

He added that there is a partnership with all law enforcement agencies in the state. “There is zero tolerance for DUI; we all work together and are actively looking for DUIs.”

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, plan to celebrate safely. Law enforcement will be out in force and aggressively looking for individuals breaking the law.




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