Labor Day weekend will usher in new DUI law

A new, tougher DUI law will go into effect in time for the Labor Day weekend.

Law enforcement officers will be out in force over the holiday weekend and drivers should be aware of the more stringent laws, law enforcement officials said.

State legislators in April voted for a law to lower the legal limits for drunken driving.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m.

Saturday, legal limits for DUI drop from the blood alcohol limit of .10 to .08.

KPD Lt.

Steve Auld said his officers would not change patrolling procedures.

"We'll just make sure everyone is aware of the changes," Auld said.

Arizona Department of Public Safety Lt.

John Tibbetts said the lowering of the DUI limits should also not impact his highway patrol officers.

"The only person it will impact is the person with .08," he said.

Tibbetts also said his department will have a DUI checkpoint "somewhere in the county" beginning 7 p.m.

Saturday through 2 a.m.

Sunday.

The checkpoint is the first in a while for DPS during a holiday.

Double squads of DPS officers will be on duty over the weekend, Tibbetts said.

DPS officers can still stop and arrest drunken drivers with a blood alcohol level between .05 and .08 if their erratic driving warrants it, he said.

Mohave County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jim McCabe said MCSO will also have extra deputies on patrol over the weekend.

"We hope people come to the area and enjoy our resources, especially the waterways, but we ask them to be very careful," McCabe said.

"The life they save could be their own."

McCabe did not think the lowering of the DUI limits would lead to more arrests.

"Truthfully, I don't see a big impact," he said.

"I don't see the amount of arrests going up."

In April, the state legislature also lower the extreme DUI limits from .18 to .15, which went into effect immediately.

Penalties for extreme misdemeanor DUI are a mandatory 10 days in jail.

Someone convicted for a regular DUI must serve a mandatory one day in jail.

Approximately a third of the 125-150 DUI arrests in Kingman each year are extreme DUIs.

Besides more jail time, stiffer penalties for DUIs would include the loss of a defendant's driver's license or ignition devices attached to vehicles to keep the defendant from driving, he said.

DUI arrests are usually misdemeanors.

However, it becomes a felony if the offender is arrested with a child under the age of 15 in the car; had their driver's license suspended for a previous felony DUI; or had three felony DUIs in the last five years.

Congress recently passed a law that would withhold federal highway funds from states that don't lower the DUI rate to .08.

States that lower the limit before October will receive additional highway funds.

Arizona would have lost about $65 million in highway funds over the next five years if the DUI limit was not lowered.