PHOENIX (AP) - Two new proposals by a state lawmaker would raise the legal limit for extreme drunken drivers and extend the time they spend in jail.
The proposals, Senate bills 1026 and 1029, have been endorsed by the Senate Transportation Committee and passed Thursday in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee. To become law, the bills would still need approval from the full Senate, the House, and then Gov. Janet Napolitano.
Waring said he is not going after most DUI drivers, who serve their time and don't repeat the offense. Rather, he said he wants to target drivers who have built up a substantial tolerance to alcohol and drive while heavily intoxicated.
While Waring is proposing raising the limit for extreme DUI, the state Legislature has in previous years incrementally toughened DUI laws. Previous legislation dropped the BAC limit to 0.08 percent from 0.10 percent and dropped the extreme DUI limit to 0.15 from 0.18.
Sens. Rebecca Rios and John Huppenthal, who both sit on the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, said in a hearing Thursday they both had been in crashes caused by drunken drivers.
``It's an ongoing challenge. You wonder why people engage in the behavior they do,'' said Huppenthal, a Chandler Republican.
Waring also wants to prevent judges from being able to suspend part of an extreme offender's sentence, which now is possible if the offender completes a drug or alcohol treatment, screening or education program.
A lobbyist for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns said the group has reservations about the proposals because of the financial burden of mandatory incarceration.
``We're supportive of the idea of cracking down on drunken driving. We just wanted to point out the cost component,'' said Jeff Kros, the league's legislative director.
Sen. Chuck Gray, a Mesa Republican, said the bills would save cities money because they likely would not be responding to as many DUI-related crashes.
``That's their job to put these people in jail. I hope cities would take their responsibility,'' Gray said during the hearing. ``I'm tired of them complaining about their job because of a money issue.''