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Drunk Driving in Arizona - Just Don't Do It

Arizona is a great state for many activities: seeing the Grand Canyon, playing golf, and mountain hiking come to mind. But what if you like to have a few drinks (or a few too many) while enjoying The Grand Canyon state? Without a doubt, do not get behind the wheel of a car and drive.

Arizona has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation. Get pulled over with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent and you are in for some serious penalties. First offense: 10 days in the Tent City jail, license suspended for 90 days, and fines over $750. Repeat offenders? Get ready for more jail time, higher fees, longer license suspensions, and a not-so-pleasant surprise when you get your license back. It is called an interlock device. You blow into this device and if there is alcohol on your breath, the lights will flash, the horn will honk, and the car will not start. How is that for embarrassing?

The penalties are so harsh, even the police feel, well, a little sympathy, for first timers anyway. Police in Scottsdale, Ariz., think a lot of drivers do not realize how little alcohol they need to consume to test over the legal limit. Their goal is to educate the public about where the legal limit is.

The program, called "Know Your Limit," aims to keep drunk drivers off the road instead of merely arresting them later. The goal is to find people who are over the limit and let them know before they get into a car. Scottsdale police go out into the community and try to find drivers who have had too much to drink before they get into their car. They ask people on the street if they can guess whether they are above the legal limit and offer a Breathalyzer test.

Most people are shocked to find out that they are over the limit. Officers estimate that between 50 and 60 percent of people tested think they are OK to drive when they are not. Law enforcement authorities hope this realization can save some citizens from making the mistake of driving while they are intoxicated. If even a portion of these people "learn their limit," fewer drunk drivers will be on the road in Scottsdale, which means fewer people will be in jail in Tent City for driving while intoxicated.