The good news is that fewer people were charged with driving under the influence in Arizona this Memorial Day weekend than in 2017. The reduction is particularly welcome since last year’s DUI arrests were higher by more than 10% over the prior year, 2016. Last year also saw increases in extreme DUI. But not all the news was good. Here’s a comparison by category between 2018 and 2017:
- Overall DUI arrests were down. The number of people arrested for DUI statewide declined from 552 in 2017 to 481 this year. That’s a decrease of almost 13%.
- Average BAC was up. The average blood alcohol content (BAC) for those who were arrested in 2018 was 0.149, compared with 0.136 in 2017. That’s an increase of about 10%.
- Extreme DUI was down. Arizona law provides that if your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you can be charged with extreme DUI, with higher potential penalties. In 2017, there were 119 arrests for extreme DUI during the holiday weekend. This year, the number was 101, a decrease of more than 15%.
- DUI Drugs. The number of arrests of those people allegedly driving under the influence of drugs rose to 134 this year, up from 104 in 2017 and 105 in 2016.
We hesitate to draw any firm conclusions from these comparisons. First, although the percentage changes may appear significant in some areas, the numbers themselves are relatively close. Second, and perhaps equally as important, these statistics do not measure DUI as such – they measure arrests, which are a function of many factors, including the effort that law enforcement expends on DUI patrols and DUI checkpoints. It appears that slightly more officers and deputies participated in DUI enforcement this year than last. On the other hand, the number of checkpoints, the number of patrols, and the locations of each all affect the people that the police encounter, and therefore impact the number of stops, and the number of arrests. Finally, arrests are not convictions, and an increase in arrests could lose its significance entirely depending upon how the charges are ultimately resolved.
The result is that while DUI arrests were down this year during Memorial Day weekend, we can’t come to any firm conclusions, based on that fact alone, about how many people were actually driving under the influence.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004