Drunk-Driving Fatality Rate Going Up in Arizona; Drugged-Driving Problem Also on Increase, 2012 ADOT Report Shows

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Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, could not say why the rate of drunk-driving fatalities has gone up even though Arizona has the toughest DUI laws in the nation.
The number of people killed by drunk drivers in Arizona went down slightly compared to last year -- but only because fewer people overall died on state roadways.

As a percentage of the total fatalities, more drunk drivers were responsible for killing people in 2012 than the year before, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation's Crash Facts annual report released this week.

The rate was already up slightly in 2011 from 2010 following a decrease in 2009, a New Times review of the last five years of reports shows. For injury crashes, the rate of drunk drivers believed responsible rose slightly in 2012.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor's Highway Safety office, had no explanation for why more drunk drivers, proportionately, are getting into crashes -- despite the fact that the state has, arguably, the harshest DUI laws in the country.

See also:

Marijuana By Itself Not a Significant Factor in Fatal and Injury Crashes in 2012, DPS Data Shows


As of the latest count, Gutier explains, a whopping 1,844 people are serving time in Arizona prisons because of DUI offenses. (The figure includes 1,581 U.S. citizens and 263 "criminal aliens.")

"That's a lot of people," Gutier notes, emphasizing that the figure doesn't include people serving time for DUIs in jail, like former Arizona Diamondbacks player Mark Grace.

Gutier speculates that perhaps an unrepentant "core" of alcoholics make up many of the drunk drivers in DUI-related fatal and injury crashes, and that it may be difficult to reduce the numbers much further on a consistent basis.

Also disheartening to Gutier, who oversees the dispersal of federal monies to help combat traffic injuries and deaths, is the rising number of fatal and injury crashes related to drivers impaired by drugs.

The 2008-2012 stats show that the rate of injury crashes attributable to drugged drivers has more than doubled. Fatal crashes due to drugged drivers have risen noticeably.

We've listed the figures for alcohol- and drugged-driving carnage below.

We'll also note that research for our recent articles on marijuana and driving indicate that the rise in drugged driving isn't due to a increase in marijuana-related crashes. For instance, the Arizona Department of Public Safety last year investigated just three marijuana-only fatal or injury crashes, yet investigated five times that number of fatal and injury crashes related to people who were illegally using drugs -- but had no booze or pot in their systems.

Our study for those pot-and-driving stories revealed evidence of the frightful trend in drugged driving: Phoenix police records shows that in two serious crashes last year, the suspects were driving on Versed, a light anesthesia that causes acute memory loss. We saw reports in which people were driving on Fentanyl, a super-opiate estimated to be more than 50 times as potent as morphine.

Often, our research showed, junkies were driving with an apothecary's-worth of drugs in their systems -- typically one or more kinds of tranquilizers combined with booze, pot or both.

"The most horrible ones are mixed," Gutier says, warning that booze and tranquilizers are probably the worst combo for drivers.

Drivers shouldn't just be concerned about serving time in prison or suffering through a year of being forced to blow into an interlock device in order to start their vehicles following a DUI conviction. They should wonder how they'll live with themselves if they kill or maim someone.

Click on the next page for the stats: (the years link to the corresponding ADOT Crash Fact reports):


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16 comments
OATHKEEPER1958
OATHKEEPER1958

USED TO BE YOU COULD DRINK A 6 PACK AND BE ON YOUR WAY.  BUT THEIR MAKING THESE BEERS STRONGER IN ALCOHOL CONTENT.  AND THEIR ALSO WANTING OUR KIDS TO BUY THESE ALCOHOLIC DRINKS WITH SUGAR IN THEM LIKE 4-LOKOS.  MY WISE ADVICE IS TO STAY AT HOME IF YOUR GOIN' TO BE DOIN' ANY HEAVY BOOZIN' AND DRUGS.  AND NO I DON'T CONDONE DRUGS BUT I KNOW PEOPLE DO 'EM.  LIKE THOSE RECALL PEOPLE THAT TRIED TO GET THE SHERIFF, THEY MUST HAVE SNORTED, INJECTED OR INHALED SOMETHIN.

cassityg32
cassityg32

These laws are far from harsh. My sis & her friends compare DUI stories & laugh....all have more than 1 & some 3-4

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@HILLFOLKREDNECK  no you couldnt  "used to drink a six pack and be on your way" it has been illegal as long as you yourself have been able to drink or drive. if you honestly believe that it was okay to do that, you have absolutely NO respect for the law. you were still putting yourself and countless others at risk with stupidity like that. there were different laws back in the day that had varying degrees. there used to be DWI and DUI that were "driving under the influence and driving while impaired"  one used to be harsher than the other, but people with a mentality of "drinking a six pack and being on their way" was one of many reasons they were both made harsher laws. and as for your claim that alcohol is stronger now............medical fact shows that alcoholism is one reason that the alcohol is affecting you different than it used to. dont blame it on the manufacturers, because they arent the ones driving, you may as well blame the auto industry for making their cars less drunk friendly for those who are loaded to the gills if you are going to do that

jbunny
jbunny

@cassityg32 That's expensive and quite a hassle. 30 days in the tents and hefty fines aren't worth it, and after your second one you're lucky if they'll let you drive with an interlock device. I'm surprised your sister can laugh about it, I sure wouldn't be.

OATHKEEPER1958
OATHKEEPER1958

@david_saint01 @HILLFOLKREDNECK   ALL OF US TEENS USED TO DO IT AND IT WAS DAM STUPID, I'LL GIVE YOU THAT.   I'M GLAD THAT'S THE ONLY SPOT ON MY RECORD AND I HAVE LIVED A GOD-FEARING LIFE SO FAR.  GOD BLESS.

OATHKEEPER1958
OATHKEEPER1958

@danzigsdaddy @HILLFOLKREDNECK WELL BACK IN OUR DAYS A 6 PACK WASN'T ANYTHING TO SHAKE A STICK AT IS WHAT I'M SAYIN.  AND YES I'M GLAD THEIR CRACKIN' DOWN ON LAWS. I STILL DRINK A BOTTLE HERE AND THERE BUT DONT' DRIVE. 

cassityg32
cassityg32

Actually, my sister has had 2 & caused a minor wreck on the second DUI. Both times (with in 3 yrs) she did get 1 month with work release because she's a teacher (both were during summer months when our school was on break), NO interlock device & fines were surprisingly minimal. The second time she also got to be inside, bring her phone, food, wear her clothes. She sent me pics of her cell which btw had a tv in it

cassityg32
cassityg32

Well, I wasn't bragging to be honest. It pisses me off actually. Considering she is 30 & I'm 35 my parents don't really have any control so it doesn't matter where they are.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

@cassityg32 next time she wants to drive drunk, put her on here and have her talk to me..ive lost a best friend, an uncle, and a family friend because they all thought they could drive drunk just fine..i dont drink a sip anymore if im driving, or i match a drink or beer with a bottle of water per. (usually have 4 drinks until midnight, then have 4 bottles of water and im good..)still get your buzz on, but by the time to drive home its all lovely. 

cassityg32
cassityg32

Similar stories with her friends. Don't buy everything you read lol

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