There were more drunk drivers on Arizona roads this Memorial Day holiday, and they were more drunk than last year, according to the director of the Governors Office of Highway Safety.
A statewide effort to reduce Memorial Day alcohol related traffic accidents put 1,534 officers from 54 agencies on the road between Friday, may 24 and Monday, May 27 this year. Officers conducted 12,556 traffic stops, resulting in 829 citations for DUI, an increase of 25 percent over last year.
Since last Memorial Day, Arizona reduced the blood alcohol content (BAC) "legal limit" for DUI from .10 to .08, accounting for some of the increase.
But Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety Alberto Gutier said officers issued 185 of those citations for extreme DUI, a (BAC) in excess of .15. Another 80 drivers received citations for BACs of .08 to .09, and officers cited 72 drivers for aggravated DUI.
The lowered BAC may have resulted in more DUI citations, but the average BAC of all DUI drivers was higher this Memorial Day, Gutier said.
"This year the BAC average went through the roof," Gutier said. "Each day the average BAC was higher and higher, with a very, very high four-day average of .15."
Gutier said the BAC average for DUIs escalated from about .151 on Friday to .171 on Monday. The highest BAC average, .177, occurred among drinking drivers stopped in the area of Wilcox. Mesa earned a dubious second place with a .168, followed by Tucson, .165. The BAC average of DUI drivers cited by only Department of Public Safety officers, who routinely patrol the state's highways, was .171.
Officers throughout the state also issued 228 citations for minor consumption, and 904 tickets for seat belt violations.
All Arizona law enforcement agencies combined issued 7,371 traffic citations over the Memorial Day weekend, Gutier said.