The number of arrests for driving under the influence, or DUI, has grown over the last couple of years not only in Phoenix, but throughout Arizona. An example is the number of DUI arrests over Memorial Day weekend this year, compared with last year. While a comparison of just a couple of years may not be statistically significant, we think you will agree that the numbers are interesting, to say the least.
This year, there were just under 600 DUI arrests over the holiday weekend, up from 409 in 2020. What is perhaps just as noteworthy is that the number of DUI arrests during last month’s holiday weekend included over 100 for “extreme DUI.” In statistical terms, that means that of the 589 DUI arrests, close to 25% of the suspects were charged with extreme DUI – having a blood alcohol content of at least 0.15, which is almost twice the legal limit. In fact, the overall average BAC for drivers arrested that weekend was 0.153.
Penalties for Extreme DUI
Whatever the reason, those who have been charged with extreme DUI face some stiff potential penalties if they are convicted. The charge is defined in A.R.S. 28-1382. That section provides for a sentence including at least 30 consecutive days in jail (although some of that time may be suspended); additional fines and assessment of at least $2,250; community restitution; and the installation (at the cost of the defendant) of an ignition interlock device. If you have previously been convicted of DUI within 84 months, the amount of jail time, fines, and assessments are even higher.
It may well be that the increase in DUI arrests in general, and the high BAC levels, are related in one way or another to the pandemic. We believe it is logical to assume so. And according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Network Open), at one point last year alcohol sales were up by over 50% compared with pre-pandemic times.
While there are defenses that can be raised, and raised successfully, in DUI cases, the penalties for drunk driving have increased significantly over the years, not only in Arizona, but throughout the country. Those penalties are particularly harsh in cases of extreme DUI.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004