On a NBA telecast on TNT, Charles Barkley, a former Phoenix Suns star, apologized for his DUI arrest in Arizona. Barkley said that he will never get behind the wheel when he’s drunk and encouraged other people to do the same.
Barkley went on to say in the on-air apology that he embarrassed everyone in his life and was sorry for doing that. He said that many people stopped him on the street and told him that even though he messed up, he should keep moving forward with his life. Barkley also said that he appreciates his bosses at TNT, as they offered support during his situation. Following the arrest, Barkley had taken a leave of absence as a NBA commentator with TNT Sports.
Barkley was arrested on December 31, 2008 after he was pulled over in Old Town Scottsdale. At the time of the arrest, he was driving his wife’s SUV and had a blood-alcohol content of .149 percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit of .08 percent under Arizona law. He was arrested, cited and released on suspicion of two counts of misdemeanor DUI in Arizona.
According to a police report, Barkley informed police that he had driven 30 seconds and was in a hurry to pick up a woman. He was stopped by an officer after he was spotted rolling through a stop sign at 75th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Barkley admitted to drinking vodka with some friends at the Dirty Pretty bar. He did not perform well during the field sobriety test and would not take a portable breathalyzer test, but did agree to a blood test.
Barkley was sentenced with 10 days in jail and a fine of $2,000 by a Scottsdale, Arizona judge. If he completes a court-approved alcohol program, his jail sentence will be reduced to 5 days.
Congressman Jeff Flakes, R-Arizona, is planning to introduce a bill that would require an illegal immigrant who has been convicted for a third drunken driving offense in Arizona to be deported.
“I keep hearing again and again that illegal immigrants with several drunken driving convictions are still here and still on the road,” Flak said when he announced that he will sponsor the proposed bill. “In many cases, people have been killed or severely injured, and it’s simply not right.”
According to Flake, high profile cases have brought more attention to the problem of illegal immigrants with multiple DUI offenses in Arizona. One of the high profile cases included the death of Phoenix Police Officer Shane Figueroa last fall who was killed in a car accident caused by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk. Figueroa was responding to a call when a truck turned in front of his patrol car. The impact of the collision spun Figueroa’s patrol car and he crashed into a block wall. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
Flake said that people are understandably upset that there isn’t a simpler way to deport illegal immigrant who have multiple DUI offenses.
“Right now, a drunken driving offense has no immigration consequences in and of itself. So this legislation would say, ‘If you have three drunken driving incidents, then you’re out. It’s a deportable offense,’” said Flake.
Flake hopes that his proposed bill will lead to a similar federal law, where “three strikes and you’re out – out of the country.”
Arizona Legislature proudly passed the strictest DUI laws in the country and began enforcement last year.
The legal limit for blood-alcohol content (BAC) is now .08 percent in Arizona and punishment for DUI conviction has become more severe. Under the new law, a first-time DUI offender in Arizona may be required to install an ignition-interlock device in the car. This device reads the driver’s BAC before the engine will start.
Another major change to Arizona DUI laws is the elimination of a certain quantitative BAC requirement to charge the driver with DUI. Drivers have been charged with DUI with a BAC as low as .06 percent. Some critics of the Arizona DUI laws have claimed that they are too ambiguous, allowing police officers to have too much power.
If you are pulled over for DUI in Arizona, the police officer will ask you to submit to sobriety tests and will use the evidence collected against you. The police officer will take notes as you perform certain tasks and if you appear to be intoxicated, you may be arrested for DUI.
Drinking and driving is a problem in Arizona. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that more than 30 percent of traffic fatalities in Arizona are related to alcohol. People are encouraged to designate a driver, call a taxi or use public transportation, but that is not always an option. Arizona’s public transportation system does not run late enough for many people and taxis can get expensive. For example, the last bus leaving Tempe departs at 1:00 AM. Increasing the hours of public transportation may be one way to lower the number of drunk driving accidents in Arizona.