Arizona DUIs Over Memorial Day Decreased Since 2019, Likely Due to COVID-19

It is a well-known fact that there are more Arizona DUI arrests over long holiday weekends because law enforcement officers believe that there will be more drunk drivers on the road. However, some weekends result in more DUI arrests than others. According to a recent report, instances of intoxicated driving are much more common over the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Thanksgiving weekend
  • Labor Day
  • Memorial Day

The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety keeps track of how many arrests police officers make for drunk-driving related crimes. Leading up to Memorial Day, law enforcement anticipated a spike in DUIs, as is customary each year. In fact, in some years, there are as many as 50 percent more Arizona drunk driving arrests over Memorial Day weekend. This year was also unique in that it was the first long weekend since the expiration of the Governor’s stay-at-home order, which was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent news report, Arizona law enforcement made about half the traffic stops they did in 2019, and arrested about 100 fewer drivers. In 2019, there were 18,364 motorists stopped, with 503 of them arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. In 2020, the number of traffic stops reduced to 9,395. Of those, 405 were arrested for suspicion of DUI. Specifically, 58 were arrested for Extreme DUI (having a blood-alcohol content of .15 or more), and 167 were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Notably, arrests for drugged driving has increased now for the fourth year in a row. For those arrested for drunk driving, the average blood-alcohol content was .153. The legal limit in Arizona is .08.

While people are arrested for Arizona DUIs throughout the year, police departments across the state step up enforcement over these holiday weekends. During times of peak enforcement, law enforcement officers are on patrol, specifically looking to make DUI arrests. This sort of mentality creates an environment where police officers may disregard – consciously or subconsciously – the constitutional rights of motorists. As they say, “to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” For example, officers who are looking for drunk drivers may interpret even the slightest driving error as a sign of intoxication when, in reality, it could just as easily have been an innocent mistake.

When a police officer makes a DUI arrest, they often must rely on their gut instincts. However, they also must respect the constitutional rights that all motorists enjoy. When police fail to follow the proper procedures, any evidence recovered – including breath and blood test results – may not be admitted at trial. Those who have been arrested for an Arizona DUI offense should reach out to a dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Contact an Experienced Tempe DUI Lawyer

If you have recently been arrested and charged with an Arizona drunk driving crime, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience handling all types of Arizona DUI cases. With his assistance, you can rest assured that your future is in good hands. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 480-413-1499.

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