Rob Targosz’s fight against drunken driving is not over. The Gilbert police officer died April 30, after being struck the day before on his police motorcycle by a driver suspected of being under the influence.
His family is taking his dedication to fighting drun- ken driving to the Legislature, where they are seeking tougher penalties for drunken driving offenses. “We want to continue on with his dreams and combat it,” said his father, Gene Targosz. “He was committed to taking DUI offenders off the road. He wanted others to be safe.”
Targosz remained a DUI officer despite offers for promotion and recognition in Gilbert.
Since his death, his father has met with Rep. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, to begin constructing tougher penalties or new laws seeking to deter DUI offenses and prevent recurrent offenders from getting behind the wheel. Gray plans to sponsor a bill during the next legislative session.
The main proposal is to require a new kind of ankle bracelet, called SCRAM for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, as a way to deter and track offenders and their behavior.
Tyler Fahlman, 20, the man charged with striking Targosz, is wearing a SCRAM bracelet as he awaits the outcome of his case. Judges can already order defendants to wear these devices, and they are often used with an order not to consume alcohol.
It reads sweat glands on the ankle to determine whether a defendant has been drinking, explained Gerald Williams, Justice of the Peace for the North Valley Justice Court in Surprise.
It is effective, Williams said, since offenders hate to wear the hard-to-hide device, which looks like two pagers around the ankle; offenders also know they could face contempt of court charges for drinking while wearing it.
Williams is among a small number of judges who commonly use the device. He said he uses it for defendants in extreme drunken driving cases, ordering them to wear the device and stop drinking for 30 days as they await their hearing.
The defendant pays $12 a day to wear the device. “Almost nobody violates it,” Williams said.
The deaths of two Phoenix police officers, Tim Landers and Scott Smith, at the hands of drunken drivers about a decade ago inspired Gray to sponsor numerous laws that have made Arizona’s DUI laws among the toughest in the nation.
However, she said, a recent trend showing a stall in the decline of DUI deaths has alarmed her.
In 2002, there were 477 alcohol-related traffic deaths, a number that dropped each year to 446 in 2004. But it increased to 492 in 2005, according to the Legislative Council’s research.