Monitech

Category: Resources

Arizona road safety advocates have been sending the message pretty persistently for the last ten years: don’t drink and drive. Have drivers been getting the message? All you need to do is take a look at the enforcement statistics from Arizona’s Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) to find some – but perhaps not all – of the answers.

The data we looked at was for Arizona DUI Enforcement for the decade of 2005 through 2014.

arizona-upTotal Traffic Stops – UP

With very little wavering, traffic stops have been increasing by the year, and the increase has been a large one – from around 49,000 stops in 2005 to 940,000 in 2014.  More government funding and legislators’ determination to make the roads safer are generally behind this twentyfold increase.

arizona-upTotal DUI arrests – UP

This is hardly surprising, given the increase in traffic stops. In 2005, just 6500 drivers were found to be under the influence. Last year, that number was between three and four times that – some 23,400. The good news is that as a percentage of total traffic stops, the number of drunk drivers is lower by far. In 2005, 13 percent of traffic stops resulted in a DUI arrest. In 2014, that number was just 2 percent.

arizona-upAverage BAC – UP

The average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for DUIs has crept up slightly in those years – from .14 to .15.  It’s hard to know if this rise is significant, especially since the overall number of drunk drivers detected has gone down as a percentage of traffic stops. That might mean that less committed drinkers are more likely to call a taxi. Or perhaps more people who have had just 2 or 3 drinks and are in the .08 range have enough judgment left to pick up on the ever-more-pervasive public messages not to drink and drive.

arizona-upAggravated and Extreme DUI – UP

In Arizona aggravated DUI is a felony, punishable by prison and very severe fines. Aggravated DUI offenses include:

  • offenses committed on a suspended or revoked license
  • a third DUI in 5 years
  • offenses committed with a person under 15 in the vehicle
  • a DUI committed while an ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle

In 2005, just 6 percent of DUI arrests were for aggravated offenses. In 2014, this number was 11 percent. This goes along with the next statistic:

arizona-upExtreme DUIs – UP

Also, in 2005, 24 percent of drunk drivers were in the extreme range (above a .15 BAC). Last year it was 29 percent. If drunk driving is declining in general, why are the ones being caught more intoxicated, and why do those ranks include more repeat offenders? It’s likely that, once again, the anti-drunk-driving messages are working for social drinkers, leaving a larger percentage of problem drinkers in the pool of offenders. This disparity underscores the nature of repeat DUI offenders, one of the harder law enforcement nuts to crack.

arizona-upNumber of Designated Drivers –UP

Here’s some good news. Since 2009 GOHS has kept track of how many vehicles stopped had sober designated drivers in them. That number has risen markedly, from 1450 in 2009 to over 10,000 last year.

Overall, the news is good: drunk driving is more unfashionable than ever in Arizona, thanks to the persistence of law enforcement, courts, and road safety advocates and organizations. More comprehensive enforcement of ignition interlock laws would help bring down the number of repeat offenders still further. If that happens, and if Arizona keeps doing what it’s doing, we can look forward to even better numbers in the next ten years.

Underage drinking is a tough nut to crack.

Peer pressure is at its maximum in middle- and high-schoolers. In those insecure years, kids will do almost anything to achieve popularity or a sense of belonging, and sadly, drinking is often the price of admission into the social elite.

North Carolina is a good example of how underage drinking can get out of hand. Research reveals that the average youth there has had his or her first drink by age 14. And so two organizations in Pitt County are teaming up to fight that trend.

The Pitt County Coalition on Substance Abuse and the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission are collaborating on a multimedia campaign called Talk It Out. The program is designed to foster communication between parents and kids.

At the program’s website, talkitoutnc.org, parents can learn how to talk with their kids about drinking. They’ll learn what all parents need to know, including tips such as:

  • Talk Early. It’s important to have conversations before they’re exposed to alcohol.
  • Don’t Just Say “No.” Explain Why. Kids need to know how dangerous it is. Just telling them to wait until they’re older won’t work.

The site also provides parents with guides on underage drinking so that parents can be well informed on the risks. It also gives them ideas on how to start the conversation.

Why all the emphasis on parents? Why is the program not an all-out effort aimed at scaring teens straight? Because that approach has not done well in the past – promoting communication and trust is a better way to help young people make better decisions. A 2014 study found that too many parents waited too late to start talking with their kids about underage drinking. It also found that most students agree that underage drinking is a problem, and that having their parents talk more about it to their kids would help.

We will probably never be entirely free of the problem of kids who drink – it’s notoriously difficult to constrain the behavior of kids who are too old to treat like babies, but too young to manage their own life decisions.  But if the problem is persistent, it is not insurmountable: with Talk It Out, Pitt County has found a way to attack underage drinking and change the course of quite a few young lives.

By this point, you’ve probably gotten the point. The world of ignition interlocks comes along with its own set lingo and jargon that can be hard to understand. So we’ve devoted a few posts to decoding the language of the interlocks. We hope this glossary of terms for our QT device comes in handy.

Start Test – The breath test taken to allow you to start your vehicle.

Stall Protection – A two-minute period of time after the engine is turned off for any reason (including engine stall). It allows for an immediate restart without the need to take a Start Test. This ensures the driver is able to quickly move from an unsafe location (i.e. railroad tracks, a busy intersection, etc) in the event of an engine stall.

Temporary Lockout – A short period of time, either five or 30 minutes, in which starting a vehicle is not permitted. This occurs after a failed Start Test. The first failure will normally result in a five minute lockout. If the next test is also a failure, the next lockout, and any following, will be for 30 minutes.

Visual Alert Device (VAD) – This is a small flashing light that can be installed (as an option) on a vehicle’s dashboard for hearing impaired interlock users. This will alert the user (who may not hear the audible prompts and messages) that new information (text), which requires their attention, is being displayed on the device’s screen.

Warning – Any caution message the device issues due to a user error or upcoming violation. These include the detection of a level of breath alcohol above your set Fail  Level, accidentally trying to start your vehicle before taking a test, driving your vehicle close to a restricted drive time (if applicable) and a variety of other events.

For additional information on our QT device, check out our QT Interlock Device User Manual.

The world of ignition interlocks comes along with its own set lingo and jargon, which can be pretty frustrating if your device displays a reading you don’t understand or  you have a question for your service provider that you can’t properly put into words. So we’re going to devote our next few posts to decoding the language of the interlocks. We hope this glossary of terms for our QT device comes in handy.

Alarm or Alarm Mode (QT)Alarm Mode occurs due to a failed or missed running test, or other violations such as an unauthorized vehicle start. If the unit enters Alarm Mode, the unit will instruct you to safely pull off the road and turn off your vehicle. Depending on your state’s Interlock Program requirements, during this time, the horn, or siren may sound, and the vehicle hazard lights or headlights may flash. The only way to stop this is to turn off your vehicle.

Appointment Check – This feature allows users to check the date of their next regularly scheduled Monitor Appointment (the appointment made at the last Service Center visit). Changes to your appointment made over the phone or appointments required due to a recall are NOT visible through this feature.

Arrival (Destination) Test – A breath test that may be required when you turn your vehicle off.

Aggressive Mode – If your breath tests (Start or Running) result in alcohol levels in the Warn or Fail range, the frequency of Running Tests you will be required to take will increase for a period of time.

Diminished Lung Capacity – Some interlock users may have difficulty blowing into the interlock due to a legitimate medical condition such as asthma or emphysema. If this condition applies to you, and your state agency allows this feature, your service provider can adjust the interlock to meet your specific Diminished Lung Capacity. See your state DMV or your service provider for more information.

Fail – A breath test result that is equal to or greater than the Fail level set by your state agency.

High Fail – A breath test result that meets or exceeds the definition of a High Fail as set by your state agency.

Hum Tone – As a way to prevent users from bypassing the technology of the device, they are required to hum while blowing into the device for all breath tests. Users are trained on how to do this when their interlock is installed.

Invalid Sample – Any sample that is blown into the unit that is not direct, unaltered human breath is an Invalid Sample.

Catch back up with us next week for the next edition of this glossary of terms.

By Bryce Little
Market Coordinator

North Carolina’s Holiday “Booze It & Lose It” campaign netted more than 3,000 DWI arrests. As North Carolina citizens were partying over the holidays, law enforcement officers were out in full force from December 13, 2013  through January 5, 2014, stopping vehicles and using breathalyzer test checkpoints to monitor the sobriety of  those behind the wheel. This effort resulted in an arrest total of 3,164 DWI drivers across North Carolina.

The holiday “Booze It & Lose It” campaign was designed to stop drinking and driving during the holiday season, which is always a dangerous period of time in terms of drinking and driving offenders. Late December and early January, historically, have been the most prevalent time for drinking and driving accidents and fatalities.

But drinking and driving wasn’t the only violation committed during this period. 6,285 seat belt and 1,086 child passenger violation tickets were also issued, along with speeding and drug charges.

The top five counties for DWI arrests during the Holiday “Booze it & Lose it “ campaign:

1. Wake County: Issued 329 DWI arrests

2. Mecklenburg County: Issued 261 DWI arrests

3. Guilford County: Issued 197 DWI arrests

4. Forsyth County: Issued 157 DWI arrests

5. Cumberland County: Issued 103 DWI arrests

The “Booze it & Lose it” campaign may have concluded, but the state’s law enforcement will remain as dedicated as ever in keeping North Carolina’s roads safe by reducing drinking and driving accidents and fatalities. So make a pledge to remain both accident and ticket free throughout 2014.

Whether it’s appointing a designated driver , calling a taxi or calling Safe Ride Home, a service in which someone comes to pick you up and take you home in your own car, there is always an alternative to drinking and driving.

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