Law enforcement across Arizona looking to bust DUI drivers during holiday season

DUI task forces are patrolling the streets of Phoenix and beyond during the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and into the remainder of the holiday season.

Authorities say this is the most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving and other DUI-related crimes. According to statistics from the Bureau of Transportation, more than one-third of fatal crashes involved a driver who had consumed alcohol.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every day about 28 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes – that’s one person every 52 minutes.

Getting a DUI is a hefty penalty, too. Typically it will cost you several thousand dollars, a 90-day suspension on your license and can include jail time.

From now until the new year, law enforcement agencies across the state are keeping extra eyes on our roads during their annual holiday DUI enforcement period, meaning they will be scattered around the state with their specialized DUI teams on the hunt for impaired drivers.

For example, Tempe police say they arrested 16 people on the night of Friday, Nov. 26. A day after Thanksgiving.

The good news is there are fewer impaired drivers on the road these days, and it's not only due to DUI patrols – Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are credited with helping to curb drunk driving.

Plan ahead if you plan to drink

There are ways to protect yourself if you've decided to have too much to drink.

"Taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, rideshare, anything you can do to get home safely. Just plan ahead, have a DD out there so that everyone can get home, including your friends and your family, at the end of the night," said Sgt. Luke Trader with the Tempe Police Department.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) partnered up with ridesharing organizations like Waymo to offer 50% off rides now until the new year.

For now, officers say make a plan if you intend to drink. Call a Lyft, have a designated driver, or just celebrate at home.

More work is being done to curb drunk driving

On Nov. 16, 2021, President Joe Biden signed his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, and the bill includes a provision that requires automakers to install anti-drunk driving systems in all new cars.

"We know, in terms of lives saved, this is the most significant legislation passed in MADD's 41-year history," said Alex Otte, National President of MADD.

Otte says numbers are currently trending in the wrong direction. Every year, there are 10,000 drunk driving deaths and 300,000 injuries. She says the infrastructure bill could change that.

"The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates once this technology is in all new cars, it will save an estimated 9,400 lives every year, essentially eliminating drunk driving," said Otte.

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