According to state data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Arizona witnessed 2,912 deaths from drunk driving between 2003 and 2012. During those years, Arizona ranked slightly higher than the national average for deaths from drunk driving across all age groups. In light of this, every driver should appreciate the significant risks of drunk driving, know how to spot a drunk driver, and understand what to do if a driver encounters one on the road.
Risks of Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence (DUI) is not only dangerous for the impaired driver, but also for all the other drivers around him or her on the road. It can lead to severe legal penalties including fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, community service, and many more possible punishments. Additionally, an impaired driver will face civil liability if his or her behavior causes injuries, fatalities, or property damage to others.
The legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) in the United States is .08%. If a police officer conducts a traffic stop and a suspected drunk driver has a BAC of .08% or more, the officer will arrest them for DUI.
Signs of Drunk Driving in Arizona
Alcohol severely impairs an individual’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol impairs judgment, slows reaction time, and makes it more difficult for a driver to safely react to changing road conditions. All drivers should know how to recognize the signs of a drunk driver.
- Erratic driving, such as driving too fast or too slowly
- Swerving, as alcohol makes it difficult for a driver to maintain control of his or her vehicle
- Turning suddenly without signaling
- Driving along the lines in the road or taking up multiple lanes
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Stopping in the middle of moving traffic
- Failing to react appropriately to traffic signals and signs
Any driver who witnesses such behavior by another driver should know how to handle the situation. Acting quickly can potentially save lives.
Reporting a Drunk Driver
A driver who witnesses the apparent impairment of another driver should call 911 immediately. The reporting driver should give the 911 operator as much information about the suspected drunk driver as possible.
- Identify the suspected drunk driver’s vehicle make, model, and color.
- Provide the license plate number, if possible.
- Name the street where the reporting driver observed the drunk driver, including the direction of travel, nearby landmarks.
- Recount a description of the suspected drunk driver’s behavior, such as swerving into other lanes, driving excessively slowly, or stopping in the middle of moving traffic.
- Provide any additional information that may help police locate and apprehend the drunk driver. For example, if the reporting driver has a dash camera that shows the drunk driver’s erratic behavior, the police will likely want to see the footage.
Anyone who reports someone for driving under the influence may not be required to provide a name, so it’s always best to report suspected drunk driving. Once a reporting driver provides as much information about the suspected drunk driver as possible, the police will start searching for the suspect and conduct a traffic stop and/or arrest.
Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of fatalities and serious injuries on the road. No driver should hesitate to report a suspected drunk driver. Even if it turns out that the erratic driver was not impaired, it is possible he or she could have been suffering from a medical complication or other emergencies, and reporting the issue can help the police locate the driver in distress and offer assistance. Ultimately, the sooner the police can locate and pull over a drunk driver, the easier it is to prevent serious injuries, property damage, and fatalities.