DUI task force fights to reduce Arizona drunk driving accidents

The West Valley DUI Task Force was out in force over the NASCAR weekend, making 39 arrests in the fight to reduce the number of serious and fatal Arizona drunk driving accidents.

Nationwide, someone dies in a drunk-driving accident every 45 minutes, according to government statistics.

“People that are impaired, it’s imperative to get them off the roadway,” Goodyear Police Officer Kory Miyazato told the Arizona Republic. “It’s just like someone that commits murder. I see it the same way. It’s someone behind the wheel, crashing into someone, killing someone.”

About one-third of all fatal Arizona traffic accidents involve a drunk driver, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. In 2008, 294 alcohol-related crashes killed 324 and injured more than 4,700.

The West Valley DUI Task Force is comprised of most West Valley law enforcement agencies, which team up and descend on a chosen city with 40 to 60 officers for a night of saturation patrols hunting for impaired drivers. Participating police departments include Avondale, Goodyear, Buckeye, Peoria, El Mirage, Glendale, Phoenix, Tolleson and Surprise, as well as the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Public Safety. The agency was formed in the 1990s and receives funding from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to pay for overtime, training and equipment.

Arizona law permits someone to be arrested for DUI even if their blood alcohol limit is below .08. In 2008, another 63 fatalities in Arizona were caused by drivers with a blood-alcohol level of .01 to .07, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

DUI arrests by the task force increased to 4,827 in 2009 from 3,788 in 2008, according to the Office of Highway Safety. Nineteen similar task forces operate statewide, including in East Valley, northern Arizona and southern Arizona.

Nationwide, drunk drivers killed 11,773 people in 2008, or one-third of all traffic fatalities. In 1,347 cases, a child younger than 14 was killed while riding in a vehicle with a drunk driver. Another 34 kids were killed in bicycle or pedestrian accidents involving someone who was driving drunk.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Phoenix drunk driving accident accident, the Arizona injury attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free consultations to discuss your rights. Call (602) 819-5191.