Stiffer Fines Set To Make Highways Safer For All

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Convictions for driving without insurance, driving under the influence and underage consumption now cost more. Legislation creating stiffer fines and penalties -- including revoking driving privileges -- took effect Aug. 12.

"We're seeing a growing problem with people driving without insurance," Don Engler, commander with the Payson Police Department, said. "We appreciate the support the Legislature has shown with this. We see it as a positive measure and added protection for drivers. Everyone knows they're not supposed to drive without insurance."

Under the new rules, a first-time offender convicted of driving without proof of insurance will lose their driver's license, registration and license plates for three months. Additionally, a $500 fine is levied with a surcharge, bringing the total costs to $905.

A second offense means loss of driver's license, registration and license plates for six months. Total fines and surcharges are $1,355.

Third-time offenders will have their driver's license, registration and license plates suspended for a year and the fines and surcharges will total $1,805.

"The fines collected go to the town or county court where the conviction is made," Mary Hawkins, court administrator for the Gila County Courts, said. "The surcharges are divided up and fund a variety of different programs."

Programs sharing the surcharges include:

  • Criminal Justice Enhancement Fund, 47 percent;
  • Medical Services Enhancement Fund, 13 percent;
  • Clean Elections Fund, 10 percent;
  • State Treasurer, 7 percent; and
  • Arizona DNA Identification Fund, 3 percent.

As of Aug. 12, a DUI conviction means mandatory jail time, plus an additional surcharge to pay for safety equipment for the Department of Public Safety and funding for the Gang Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission.

"We're always in favor of any enhanced prosecution and penalties for drunk drivers," Engler said. "We see too many accidents involving alcohol here."

A first offense requires at least 24 hours in jail and a surcharge of $500.

A second offense requires at least 30 days in jail and a $1,250 surcharge is due within five years of the conviction.

If convicted of Extreme DUI, the defendant must spend at least 10 days in jail and pay a surcharge of $1,000.

Conviction for underage consumption has a mandatory minimum penalty of $250, plus fees, making the total cost $455.

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