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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “The consequences of drinking, driving”

    It is not uncommon for UA students go out to drink and have fun, but it seems that every time at least one student ends up in the back of a police car because he had a little too much fun.

    In March 2008, Tony Hasan, a journalism junior, was that student.

    Hasan said that what started out as fun led to poor judgment and eventually to his being pulled over and convicted of driving under the influence. He said he is now paying the consequences.

    “”I have to have an ignition interlock switch,”” Hasan said. “”You blow on it to start your car. I am going to have that in my car for a year . . . it’s $70 a month for a year.””

    Sergeant Juan Alvarez, University of Arizona Police Department’s public information officer, said last year UAPD made 90 arrests for people driving under the influence. When added to the 3,377 DUI-related arrests the Tucson Police Department have made, it equals 3,467 DUI arrests in Tucson since 2007.

    “”It’s going to be mandatory (jail) time for your first offense . . . also the use of the Interlock device is going to be instituted now,”” Alvarez said. “”If you have that restriction on your license and you don’t have (the interlock system) in your car, that is another violation that you’re facing.””

    According to the State of Arizona statute, a person charged with DUI can face anywhere from one to 10 days in prison and will have to pay fines.

    Hasan said it was the fines that really hit home.

    “”(It was) about $2,000 in fines plus about $350 for alcohol awareness class, plus my lawyer was about $1,500 . . . the total was probably close to $4,000. So the day in jail was really the least of my worries,”” Hasan said.

    Eric Linderman, an undeclared sophomore, said that he received a DUI when crashed a golf cart in someone’s back yard. He was 16.

    “”The police came and I had to do a field sobriety test. I failed that and once you fail, they’re allowed to give you a Breathalyzer . . . I blew a 0.25. . . . (T)hey had to drive me 40 minutes down the road to a police station. By the time I got there I blew a 0.21.”” Linderman said.

    He added that he was able to keep his license for about two months before relinquishing it for an extended period of time.

    “”I ended up losing my license for, like, three years; I just got it back (yesterday). . . . (O)nce your license is revoked . . . and once you finish all of your (paperwork), you have to retake the (driving) test and all kinds of stupid (stuff),”” Linderman said.

    When police pull someone over with suspicion of DUI, Alvarez said there are three different counts they can be charged with.

    If their blood alcohol content is below .08, the person can be charged as a slightest degree DUI; if their BAC is between .08 and .15 it is an aggravated DUI; and if it is .15 or higher, it is classified as an extreme DUI, Alvarez said.

    “”It’s not uncommon that if we stop someone we’ll conduct an investigation . . . (I)f we have enough probable cause to make an arrest for DUI, we’ll bring them back to the station, and if they blow above a .15, then they get charged with the three charges: slightest degree, the aggravated DUI . . . then the extreme DUI,”” Alvarez said.

    “”I blew a .18, so I was lucky, I should have been an extreme (DUI),”” Hasan said. “”I just pled down to a non-extreme and got the minimum of everything. . . . I definitely should not have been driving. . . . Everyone kept telling me to fight it and do this or do that, but I got caught – I mean I blew a .18 – I shouldn’t have been driving. I have got to pay up for it now.””

    As for how he feels about the price of a DUI, Linderman said that the risk of getting caught far outweighs the reward for saving a couple dollars on a cab ride home.

    “”It cost me $12,000 for everything: lawyer fees, going to court, paying fines,”” Linderman said. “”You are better off paying $15 for a cab and having to owe someone some money than lose 12 grand over one night of drinking and driving.””

    Alvarez said he hopes that sooner or later college students will get the message and find an alternative means of transportation when they are too drunk to drive.

    “”I would like to see where we’re at a state where there is no drinking and driving,”” Alvarez said. “”The effort is continually trying to educate people to take advantage of designated drivers, to call taxis or just to not drink and drive.””

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