Driver improvement is a program that Arizona courts and law enforcement officials have implemented to encourage driver safety and minimize the risk of injuries on the road. The program is designed to battle dangerous motorist behavior such as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, vehicular aggravated assault, red-light running, failure to stop at an accident, reckless driving and other actions that risk hazards on the roads.
Driver improvement aims to identify drivers who are not driving responsibly and either correct the behavior or remove their driving privileges through license revocation. License revocation is the removal of an individual's privilege to drive, and is required by law in certain convictions. Examples of these convictions are driving under the influence of drugs, homicide or aggravated assault using a vehicle, a felony in which a vehicle is operated, perjury relating to ownership of a vehicle, hit-and-run, drive-by shooting and aggravated DUI as well as various other charges.
The Driver Improvement program also targets motorists who drive on a suspended or revoked license, offenders who fail to appear or pay their fine for a traffic citation, altered or fictitious license, underage possession of nitrous oxide and more.
Arizona already has one of the strictest and most rigidly enforced set of DUI laws in the country, and in recent years the laws have become even tougher in compliance with public concern. Although in 2011 the state was left with an economic loss that totaled more than $508 million caused by motorists who drove under the influence, total DUIs have steadily been on the decline since 2007. To provide drivers with incentive not to drink and drive, penalties for first time offenders include the implementation of an Ignition Interlock Device which requires drivers to use a breathalyzer before operating their vehicle, a minimum fine of more than $1,000, a range of 24 hours to ten days of jail time and a license suspension of 90 days to one year.
While aggravated vehicular assault is a charge that is often brought in conjunction with a DUI, under certain circumstances a sober driver may be charged with an aggravated vehicular assault offense. Arizona vehicular aggravated assault is when a motor vehicle accident causes serious bodily injury, and the driver that caused the injury was either intentionally, knowingly caused such injury or placed an individual in fear of serious injury. This type of charge is a class 3 felony and carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison.
Reckless driving or aggressive driving is another unsafe driving behavior that is being tackled by Arizona law enforcement. When a motorist has careless disregard for the safety of other people or property they can be charged with reckless driving. Although such a charge is subjective in nature, Arizona courts prosecute reckless driving very seriously. A potential sentence for reckless driving can carry up to four months in jail, fines of up to $750 and license suspension.
Points are administered on the records of drivers who are convicted of moving traffic violations. If a driver accumulates eight or more points during any 12-month period, he or she will be required to attend Traffic Survival School (TSS). All convictions for red-light/stop-sign running, aggressive driving, moving violations that result in death or serious injury and the first violation for drivers under 18 years old result in a mandated course. If such a driver chooses not to attend school their license may be suspended for up to one year. Arizona traffic school programs provide traffic offenders with knowledge that can increase safety awareness and prevent further violations. Classes cover topics like road hazard prevention, vehicle control and anticipation of potentially dangerous situations.