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AZ governor sings bill on "Extreme DUI".

Associated Press--Anyone caught driving in Arizona with a blood-alcohol level of at least .15 will now be subject to the state's tougher penalties for "driving under the extreme influence."

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull signed a bill Wednesday afternoon, lowering the extreme DUI limit from .18. It went into effect immediately thanks to an emergency clause added by the Legislature.

"We believe and know this is where most of that extreme DUI is," Hull said. "It will make it safer to drive on our highways."

Rep. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, said the lower extreme limit still targets the worst drunken drivers who are most likely to cause accidents.

"I don't care how many drinks a person has, you're not to get behind the wheel and injure somebody else."

The change is likely to make hundreds more people face the tougher penalties each year, said Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety. People need to drink responsibly and know their limits."

"Extreme DUI" carries a minimum penalty of 10 days in jail compared to one day for regular DUI. Additionally, from now on, anyone convicted of any drunken driving offense loses his or her driver's license for 30 days and has driving privileges restricted for 60 more days.

Last year, state law enforcement agencies arrested about 34,000 people on various drunken driving offenses. About 10 percent were charged with extreme DUI.

Only 4 percent of extreme DUI cases have gone to trial because prosecutors often plead them down unless the offender is well above the limit, Gutier said. The lower limit is likely to make it easier to seek the tougher penalties, he said.

Police, judges and prosecutors across the state were notified of the pending change last week so they would be prepared to enforce the new law immediately, Gutier said. "If someone is out at 3 o'clock with a blood-alcohol level of .17, they'll be picked up for extreme DUI."
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 16, 2001
Words:324
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