Officials see increase in fatal impaired driving crashes statewide

- It is a disturbing trend in the valley, a spike in alcohol and drug related crashes. In the past five days there have been at least five wrecks caused by drivers that police believe were impaired, four of those were fatal.

Three accidents happened on Sunday, in all three innocent drivers were killed and the suspects were led away in handcuffs. On Wednesday, a fourth crash killed a 21-year-old man was killed by a suspected impaired driver. And early Thursday morning a woman is accused of being impaired and slamming head-on with another vehicle. A victim in that crash lost her leg, and her 7-year-old special needs child had to be rescued.

So why the spike in these types of crashes and what is being done to stop them?

"Speeding, with impaired driving, and at the same time not wearing seat belts cause a number of fatalities in Arizona. In the last few months there's been a huge uptick in the number of fatalities that have been reported to us," said Alberto Gutier with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

"These alcohol levels we've seen in these collisions in the last few days alone have been about twice the legal limit, and so we are talking about high impairment levels," said Gutier.

Faced with an alarming trend, officials from government agencies across Arizona sat down this week to devise a plan.

"What's happened in general in Arizona is the number of fatalities in Arizona is going through the ceiling compared to last year," said Gutier.

On the brink of the most heavily enforced month of the year when it comes to impaired driving, officers are asking for everyone's help.

"We're talking about impairment levels that are literally changing people's lives, so we've got to do more to try to stop people from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle then they're this impaired," he said.

And with a zero tolerance policy, you can expect serious consequences for driving while impaired, especially if you're a repeat offender.

"People don't realize, but there're over a thousand people in prison, not jail, prison, in the DOC for second or third offenses of any kind of felony following a DUI," said Gutier.

Especially with more ways to get around now with apps like Uber, Lyft, and even taxis, officers say there is no excuse to get behind the wheel while impaired.

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