Arizona comes out on top in report about drunk driving

A new report ranks Arizona as the state with the harshest DUI laws. But, with the continuation of drunk driving deaths, should more be done?

In Coconino County, the number of drunk driving deaths in 2014 outnumbered those in 2010 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All together over the 60 months spanning those five years, 67 people were killed on the streets of Coconino County at the hands of impaired drivers. Around the state, between 199 and 230 drunk driving deaths were recorded each of those five years.

So, how safe from the effects of drunk driving are people in Arizona?

State not perfect, but better than others

Clearly there remains in Arizona a risk posed by negligent drivers who operate vehicles after drinking. However, a report recently published by WalletHub makes it clear that Arizona residents have it better than people in other states or the District of Columbia.

The report looked at several factors considered to be either punitive or preventative with regard to impaired operation and how each region measured up. Arizona's criminal penalties put it in the first position and its preventative measures ranked second. Overall, the state was named as the one with the strictest approach to drunk driving across the entire United States.

Where Arizona surpasses other states

A wide range of facets of the law were considered in the report. Some of the elements that led to Arizona's top ranking included the 10-day minimum jail sentence for first-time offenders. The 90-day minimum jail sentence for second-time offenders also separated the Grand Canyon state from others.

In Arizona, drivers convicted of impaired operation may expect to see their automobile insurance costs go up by as much as 37 percent. All people convicted of DUIs are required to install and use ignition interlock devices and the fines that Arizona imposes are higher than in most other states.

A look at Arizona's fines

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the smallest fine that any convicted drunk driver may pay is $1,250. That is the fine for a first DUI with a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent or lower. Drivers with BAC levels above that threshold will pay at least double that. For a second DUI and a BAC level of 0.14 percent or lower, the fine starts at $3,000 and increases to $3,250 with a high BAC.

A look at Arizona's jail time requirements

The 10-day minimum jail sentence for a first DUI is only for drivers with BAC levels of 0.14 percent or lower. Those with higher BAC levels may expect to spend at least 30 days in jail. For second offenses, the minimum time in jail is 90 days with lower BAC levels and 120 days for BAC levels over 0.14 percent.

Staying strong in the fight against drunk driving

While the WalletHub report offers some good news for Arizonans, it is important that accident victims continue to seek their due compensation. Talking to an attorney after a drunk driving crash is an important way of doing this.