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PHOENIX - Backers of mandatory ignition interlocks for all drunken drivers are scurrying to salvage at least part of the new law. Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, and Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, said Thursday they are willing to accept a partial repeal of a month-old law which says anyone convicted of even a single charge of driving under the influence of alcohol must operate only vehicles with interlocks for one year. These devices prevent a vehicle from starting if the motorist has had more than just a minimal amount of alcohol.

The offer follows the House on Thursday giving final approval to legislation making several changes in drunken driving laws. SB 1582 even allows a judge to order those who are arraigned on drunken driving charges not to drink while awaiting trial and require them to wear a device that monitors sweat to ensure compliance.

But the House version of SB 1582 also repeals a law signed by the governor earlier this year expanding the use of interlocks.

State law has mandated interlocks for years for those convicted of "extreme'' DUI - meaning a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.15 - and those who are repeat offenders. But the law signed last month says all convicted of even a single offense of driving with a BAC of at least 0.08, the legal limit, must install the devices on any vehicle they drive.

"I don't think there's anybody in this body who wants to go soft on DUI crimes or reward people who are convicted of the crime,'' said Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, one of the legislators who voted Thursday for repeal. "But I think many of us believe we need to find the proper punishment to fit the crime.''

And that, he said, does not include interlocks for every convicted drunken driver.

The deal Schapira and Gray are offering would require interlocks only for those whose BAC reaches 0.10. That eliminates those who, while intoxicated - and still breaking the law and facing other punishment - are just slightly over the legal limit. But Gray said aides to Gov. Janet Napolitano have said she is unwilling to undo the provisions on a bill she just signed.

Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer said Napolitano won't comment.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who led the fight to repeal the new law, said he's willing to discuss a deal. But Kavanagh said the offer by Gray and Schapira isn't enough. He also wants to give judges the option to order installation of interlocks rather than make it a mandate.

Efforts to craft a deal are also endangered by some on the other side of the issue who want to keep the original law intact.

"The carnage that is a result of those who drink and drive is evident and it is perennial,'' said Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who voted against repeal. "And I do think the punishment fits the crime,'' he continued, responding to Campbell.

"This weakens the DUI laws,'' Farnsworth said.


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