"Law enforcement has been particularly aggressive about pulling over and arresting motorists suspected of driving under the influence in the past year, and there's no indication they will slow down in 2013," said Tempe DUI lawyer James Novak.
Tempe, AZ (PRWEB) January 07, 2013
While final numbers are still being calculated, it's clear that DUI arrests in Arizona surged in 2012, according to initial statistics released by the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety. People in Tempe and the surrounding communities must be vigilant about their alcohol intake and know the law if they plan to get behind the wheel, said Tempe DUI defense lawyer James E. Novak.
Police in Arizona reported arrests for driving under the influence in Arizona climbed to over 27,000, with over 25% of them being extreme DUI which is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .15% or greater.
From January 1, 2012 to December 27, 2012, DUI Arrests had already reached 26,334. This figure did not include December 27, 2012 through December 31, 2012, New Year’s 2013 holiday, which resulted in an additional 4 days of DUI arrests on top of that not included in the official statistics reported by Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AGOHS). But the Arizona Republic reported that police arrested 27,710 motorists on suspicion of DUI in 2012.
This is attributed to an increased focus on DUI stops by police in Arizona, Novak said.
"This means drivers must be more careful about avoiding driving while impaired due to drugs or alcohol”, he said. "Law enforcement has been particularly aggressive about pulling over and arresting motorists suspected of driving under the influence in the past year, and there's no indication they will slow down in 2013. It's very important that people understand DUI laws before getting behind the wheel, since penalties are severe."
Increased DUI arrests can largely be attributed to increased police enforcement, afforded by grants and funding for DUI enforcement by AGOHS. For example, in 2011, $4.1 million was spent on police overtime, special training and equipment for DUI enforcement. This includes funding of the Arizona Drug Evaluation (DRE) and phlebotomy programs which help police identify motorists impaired due to illegal drugs and controlled substances. This enables agencies to put more highly trained police officers, on the Arizona roads. “More officers on the streets, leads to more DUI arrests” Novak said.
A part of this increased presence was the annual DUI task force over the holiday season. From Thanksgiving 2012 through New Year's Day 2013, police flooded the streets, pooling 2,247 officers from 70 police agencies in the Valley of the Sun for the task force. They arrested 4,371 people for DUI — 16 percent of the year's total.
However, while the holiday task force arrests mark an upward trend from past years — up 7 percent from 2011 and 12 percent from 2010 — the holiday season increase does not account for the large increase in DUI arrests over the year.
"It's clear that the police were on the lookout for DUI suspects year-round this year, not just during the holiday season," Novak said. "People driving in Arizona need to be aware of DUI laws and careful not to break them — and, in case they are arrested, be ready to call a Tempe DUI defense lawyer."
In Arizona, a person is considered driving under the influence if his or her BAC is higher than .08% It’s commonly thought that it means "two drinks in.” However, a complex range of factors can contribute to BAC, including weight, size, gender and metabolism.
For the holiday task force arrests, though, police reported the average BAC at .15%. A BAC between .15% and .20% means that the person arrested may be charged with Extreme DUI. An extreme DUI charge in Tempe can lead to more severe penalties, including at least 30 consecutive days in jail for a first offense, compared to 10 days for a regular first DUI. Any BAC higher than .20% will be in violation of "Super Extreme DUI," laws, which carries even greater penalties. They include at least 45 consecutive days in jail and up to five years probation.
For most first DUIs, though, possible penalties include:
- Mandatory 10-day consecutive jail sentence,
- At least a $250 fine,
- Driver's license suspension for 90 days,
- Installation of an ignition interlock device.
- Alcohol or drug screening.
- Alcohol or drug treatment program.
- Assessment of $500 in the prison construction and operations fund.
- Assessment of $500 in the public safety equipment fund.
- Community restitution.
"Arizona DUI laws and penalties are among the toughest in the country" Novak said. "If a person will be drinking, their best bets are to call a cab or have a designated driver. However, if a person has been arrested they should always consult a criminal defense attorney. Going without proper representation will result in a swift, but harsh conviction that includes criminal penalties and often collateral consequences”.
James Novak, of the Law Office of James E. Novak is a Tempe DUI defense lawyer and former prosecutor. He defends DUI charges, and other criminal offenses within Maricopa County, including Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale and Gilbert, AZ.