Harsh drunk driving penalties aim to discourage people from getting behind the wheel after imbibing. Yet, the act remains all too common in the United States, and a person falls victim to a DUI accident every 50 minutes. Arizona has done its part in reducing these accidents by enforcing the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation. But have these rules translated into a decrease in drunk driving?
A mixed verdict
Arizona’s draconian DUI laws have proven somewhat effective in keeping the number of offenses in the state low. The minimum penalties for a DUI in state include a 10-day jail sentence and an immediate license suspension. These serious punishments have led only 1.7% of Arizonans to admit to driving after drinking excessively. This rate is lower than the reported average of 1.9% of United States residents. Yet, over 27,000 Arizonans experienced a DUI arrest in 2018. But Arizona had a lower percentage of fatal crashes where drunk driving was a factor than the national average – 26.3% versus 29.5%. And the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Arizona has dropped in recent years, down to 285 in 2018 from a high of 582 in 1986.
The road forward
Arizona’s DUI rate – as a fraction of its total population – is in the middle of the pack compared with other states. Yet, the state’s total number of DUI arrests paints a more sobering picture. While drunk driving is less of a problem in Arizona than it was in the past, it remains an ongoing challenge. And it’s important for motorists to understand the potential consequences of drinking and driving. If you’re facing DUI charges, an attorney experienced in drunk driving defense can help you work through them.