The totals are pretty breathtaking. In the period between Thursday, June 29th and Independence Day, police conducted some 16,000 traffic stops. The stops resulted in 539 Arizona DUI arrests.
Arrest numbers can mean different things, depending on your view. It appears that Arizona police found a drunk driver for every 21 traffic stops they made. That seems pretty steep, but presumably those 21 drivers were not a random sampling – they were pulled over because of some other behavior. So we don’t know exactly what proportion of Arizona’s 5 million drivers were impaired and behind the wheel during those 5 days.
What we do know is this:
- 539 people were unaware or unconcerned that drunk driving is a criminal offense in Arizona. Even a first offense can get them 10 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. There are other costs too: jail costs, and a mandatory ignition interlock on their vehicle for one year.
- 148 people were arrested for extreme DUI, meaning a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 1.5 or more. These people were apparently unaware or unconcerned that even a first extreme DUI merits 30 days in jail almost $2,800 in fines, mandatory screening and counseling, and an ignition interlock. If any of those were repeat extreme DUIs, they will be in for even stiffer penalties.
- 539 Arizonans did not seem to care that alcohol, which depresses the central nervous system, compromised their judgment, slowed their reaction time, impaired their vision and hearing, and made it much more likely that they would get in a collision. In fact, a UC San Diego study found that even a small amount of alcohol in a driver’s system – a BAC of .01 – made it 46 percent more likely that that driver would be blamed for a collision.
And those 539 Arizonans did not seem to care that more than 250 people in the state, and some 10,000 people in the country, die each year as a result of someone’s decision to drink and drive. Fortunately, a lot of Arizonans do, and they’ll continue to support efforts like those of Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to take drunk drivers off the road.