You were alerted. Before St. Patrick’s Day announcements went out proclaiming that police departments everywhere were cracking down in drunk drivers. Patrols would be out looking for anyone who showed signs of impairment.
Enforcement was massive and coordinated: DUI checkpoints, saturation patrols, and other types of enhanced enforcement helped round up drivers who were under the influence, and helped deter others who were contemplating driving when they shouldn’t have.
And it wasn’t just patrols. In Chandler, police were at the Shamrock Festival promoting awareness of impaired driving issues through the “Know Your Limit” program. The program helps people understand how much (or little) alcohol it takes to have one’s faculties compromised. There were posters and news reports reminding drivers to find a designated driver.
And designated drivers were there. Maricopa County offered rides through a partnership with the rideshare service Lyft. Triple-A had its “Tipsy Tow” service as well, allowing drivers to get themselves and their vehicles home safely.
That was excellent – but apparently not good enough for 509 people who were arrested for DUI in Arizona – first-time, aggravated, extreme, underage, and drugged.
So we ask: what were you thinking? Did you think you were less drunk than you really were? Were you ashamed to call a friend and ask for a ride?
Or did you fail to plan? Rule one for any evening out is to have a plan: decide beforehand how you’ll be getting home if you’re drinking. Did all of the messages we broadcast escape you?
We’re asking because no matter how many laws we enact, no matter how many commercials we air or signs we post in bars, a certain percentage of you still drink and drive. And in doing so, you endanger others on the road.
There’s no way the police can catch every DUI in Arizona, and apparently there’s no way to get through to everyone who has the potential of driving drunk. All we can do is prevent people from reoffending through ignition interlocks and alcohol counseling and treatment. And since Arizona mandates ignition interlocks – devices which prevent a drinker’s vehicle from starting – for all DUI offenses, there will be more interlock-equipped cars on the road soon.
We don’t know what you were thinking on that weekend. But we hope that next time, you do think. And you find another, sober way home.