Image From ..azpm.org
Whatever it takes to get people to wise up and drive sober is apparently a message that hasn't arrived in Arizona.
More than 4,000 Arizonans statewide were arrested on suspicion of DUI between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve by officers participating in regional saturation enforcements, according to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
The Arizona Republic reports that officers arrested 4,371 people between Nov. 24 and Jan. 1, including 1,098 people on suspicion of extreme DUI, 450 on suspicion of aggravated DUI, and 934 DUI drug arrests, according to GOHS. Of the 81,934 total people stopped, there were 1,964 designated drivers, and 34,974 non-DUI citations were handed out.
The average blood-alcohol content of those arrested was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
What's most disturbing is that the totals continued an upward trend over the last three years in several areas, including extreme DUI, seat-belt citations and child-restraint violations. During the same period last year, police arrested 4,058 people, and in 2010 arrested 3,880. The number of designated drivers also has increased, from 1,391 in 2010 and 1,927 in 2011.
From Jan. 1, 2012 through Jan. 1, 2013, officers working on the task forces arrested 27,710 people on suspicion of DUI, including 8,080 on suspicion of extreme DUI, 3,275 on suspicion of aggravated DUI and 3,919 drug DUI arrests. Officers also handed out 338,101 non-DUI citations among the 787,946 people stopped. There were 6,242 designated drivers.
Highway Safety Office Director Alberto Gutier said the goal of the DUI task forces is “to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries on our streets and highways by enforcing DUI and traffic laws in our state.”
Obviously, their efforts are reducing crashes but they're not reducing drunk driving; just the opposite is happening. What will it take? Does Arizona need more severe laws and punishment for DUI? More public communication campaigns? Greater education efforts? What's the answer?