Alcohol loomed large in the arrest of well over 500 people in Arizona suspected of driving under the influence and other offenses over the Memorial Day weekend. The arrests were made by a task force on the lookout for drunk drivers between May 23 and the morning of Tuesday, May 28. The task force was composed of more than 1,600 officers and deputies from a 70 law enforcement agencies around the state. While the number of DUI arrests (560) was higher than last year (547), the number of traffic stops (13,000) was the lowest for the task force since 2010.
Among the DUI arrests, police say that 499 were for misdemeanor DUI, including almost 150 drivers who were charged with extreme DUI. In Arizona, this can be charged where a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or more, which is almost twice the legal limit.
They also say that in addition to the misdemeanor DUI cases, there were 60 arrests for aggravated DUI. Aggravated DUI, which is defined in A.R.S. 28-1383, includes (a) driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, if your license is suspended or revoked based upon a prior driving under the influence charge; (b) a third or subsequent DUI within 84 months; (c) DUI with a minor passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle; or (d) DUI while you are under an order to drive with an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Unlike a simple DUI, aggravated DUI is a felony.
The DUI arrests also included 31 people under the age of 21. Under Arizona law, minors (anyone under 21 years of age) are prohibited from driving a vehicle if they have any liquor in their body. Finally, there were 340 arrests during the weekend for underage drinking.
We often hear that the incidence of driving under the influence is improving over the years, but the statistics from this year may indicate that things are not actually getting better. We say this because we’ve witnessed a lower number of stops in 2013, yet an increase in DUI arrests. While these numbers may not be statistically significant, and could be due, for example, to better enforcement techniques, there is another figure that is rather alarming: this year, the average BAC of all the drivers arrested was 0.153 – this is high enough for an extreme DUI charge, and is the highest average BAC during any Memorial Day weekend since 2009.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004