Arizona Holiday Season 2023: Don’t Drink & Drive

In Arizona and the rest of the country, holiday weekends tend to have the highest rates of DUI arrests and crashes. There are several holiday weekends at the end of the year, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve being two of the top holiday weekends for DUI issues in Arizona. Some people are under the mistaken assumption that there are fewer police officers out on the road on holidays so they can spend time with their families. However, police departments are prepared for increased rates of DUI and there will be no shortage of patrol cars out on duty these upcoming holiday weekends. Getting arrested for driving under the influence can have serious consequences at any time of the year, and the holidays are no exception. If you’ve been arrested for DUI or another alcohol-related offense in Arizona, don’t hesitate to begin working on your defense with a skilled criminal defense attorney– call 480-833-8000 to schedule your free consultation.

Alcoholic beverage and car keys on a table, highlighting the dangers of drinking and driving in Arizona

Holiday Weekend Crash Statistics

Because 2023 isn’t complete until New Year’s weekend is over, 2022 is the most recent year for which we have complete traffic accident data. The section on holiday crash statistics starts at page 18 of this report. The most deadly holiday weekend for traffic accidents in Arizona last year was Thanksgiving weekend, but New Year’s Day was the holiday with the most alcohol-related fatalities. Christmas, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day all have slightly lower accident and alcohol-related fatality rates. This was the highest year for holiday fatal crashes, with 2020 (the pandemic) being the only year that fatal crashes during holiday weekends didn’t increase.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that both accident rates and alcohol-related accident rates increase during the holidays. There are more people on the road traveling to and from loved ones’ homes, whether in Arizona or out-of-state. Holiday travelers may be experiencing more stress than usual, whether that’s family drama or simply frustration and exhaustion from long hours behind the wheel. Many households include alcohol as part of their holiday festivities, and a guest who doesn’t wait long enough before driving home is at a greater risk of being involved in a traffic accident, especially a fatal traffic accident.

How Alcohol Can Increase the Risk of an Accident

Anyone who has had at least a few alcoholic beverages before knows that drinking reduces inhibitions and increases reaction time. Muscle coordination, thinking, the nervous system, and reasoning can also be affected by alcohol consumption. When someone is operating a motor vehicle that potentially weighs thousands of pounds, this can be a deadly combination.

The amount of alcohol someone has consumed is quantifiable by their BAC or blood alcohol content. This is also the measure that the police use when determining if someone is sober enough to drive. Drivers with a BAC as low as .02 can see impaired judgment, a decline in visual function, and a decline in the ability to multitask. Arizona has a discretionary legal limit of .05, meaning a driver isn’t presumed to be intoxicated at that level but can be arrested for DUI if they appear to be too impaired to drive. A driver with a BAC of .05 may have exaggerated behavior, loss of small-muscle control, impaired judgment, reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects and respond to emergencies, and difficulty steering. The legal limit in most states is .08 and that is also the BAC at which a driver is presumed to be intoxicated in Arizona. A person with a BAC of .08 or higher can experience all of the effects described above. That person may also experience concentration difficulties, short-term memory loss, poor muscle coordination, and impaired perception. It may not take as much alcohol to get to this level of intoxication as you would think. You can find a table showing approximate BAC based on weight and number of drinks here. However, these types of tables aren’t 100% accurate and you should always use your best judgment if you plan to drive after drinking alcohol.

What are the Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Arizona?

Arizona cracks down on drunk driving in a way that is much stricter than in other states. First of all, the tentative .05 BAC limit is much stricter than the standard .08 BAC level that most states use. Arizona also doles out much stricter penalties for DUI convictions than several other states impose.

Jail Time

For many defendants charged with DUI in Arizona, jail time is their top concern. Arizona has mandatory jail sentencing for all DUI convictions. The only exception is that jail time isn’t mandatory for baby DUI defendants, or those under 21 years of age arrested with a BAC under .08. Whether a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DUI in Arizona, the defendant will have to spend at least one day behind bars. The sentence could be much longer than that, depending on factors like the defendant’s BAC, prior criminal history, etc.

Fines

Whether or not you’re convicted of DUI, dealing with it can get quite expensive. A conviction is accompanied by a fine which can be several thousand dollars. If the defendant caused property damage or bodily injury in conjunction with their DUI arrest, they may also be ordered to pay restitution.

Loss of Driving Privileges

A driver convicted of DUI will have their license suspended or even revoked. After completing court requirements, their driver’s license may come with more restrictions and terms than before the DUI arrest. A restricted license will only allow the driver to drive to certain places or during certain hours. A driver whose license is revoked will need to apply for a whole new driver’s license. After a DUI conviction, the driver will be required to obtain high-risk auto insurance, also known as an SR-22 policy. They will also need to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Other Penalties

A driver convicted of DUI in Arizona will have other requirements to complete to satisfy the court. One of these is completing community service. Another is completing drug and alcohol screening, treatment, and education. If a driver is arrested for Extreme DUI or higher, the driver’s vehicle will be impounded for 30 days. There are other penalties a DUI defendant at any level can face in Arizona. To learn more about them and how to best defend against them, call 480-833-8000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona criminal defenders.

Fight Back Against DUI Charges with Our Arizona Criminal Defense Team

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Arizona, you will want a strong defense attorney to help you protect your interests. A DUI conviction comes with strict penalties and can hurt your career and overall standing in life. But you don’t have to let a DUI arrest define your whole life. At My AZ Criminal Defense Lawyers, we have a passion for guiding our clients through tricky situations with as little fallout as possible. We understand just how important it is to handle criminal matters with care and discretion. Learn more about your options when facing DUI charges in Arizona, contact us today to schedule your free consultation with our firm.

Published On: December 21st, 2023Categories: Criminal Defense