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Extreme holiday DUIs on the rise in Arizona

Police data shows Arizona's officers arrested more drunk drivers intoxicated at extreme levels in December.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

Arizona's police officers made more extreme DUI arrests in December than in previous years.

According to numbers released this week by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Arizona's law enforcement agencies made 512 arrests in December for drivers who allegedly had a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.15. The state's legal limit is 0.08.

The state reported 378 extreme DUI arrests in December 2020 and 421 arrests in December 2019.

Arizona law states a driver convicted of extreme DUI will serve at least 30 days in jail and must pay various fines.

The total number of DUI arrests reported in December was 1,963, which is more than December 2020 and less than December 2019. 

Alberto Gutier, the Office of Highway Safety's director, told 12 News in November the state was experiencing an increasing amount of violent crashes in 2021 due to poor driving behavior.

“It’s very scary and it’s one of those things where you go, 'What's going on?'” Gutier said. 

2021 was the first year Arizona started issuing distracted driving citations after legislators passed laws to prohibit drivers from using phones while operating vehicles. In December, officers issued 375 citations for distracted driving.

Arizona started off the new year with at least two deadly crashes involving drivers who were allegedly under the influence of alcohol. One of the incidents resulted in the deaths of a mother, father, and their 12-year-old son.

Data from the Arizona Department of Transportation shows that roadway fatalities have been gradually rising in Arizona over the last decade:

  • 2011: 825 deaths 
  • 2012: 821 deaths
  • 2013: 844 deaths
  • 2014: 774 deaths
  • 2015: 895 deaths
  • 2016: 952 deaths
  • 2017: 1,000 deaths
  • 2018: 1,010 deaths
  • 2019: 982 deaths
  • 2020: 1,057 deaths 

RELATED: Valley family mourns mom of 3 who died in New Year’s crash

RELATED: 'He has torn two families apart': Laveen family of 3 killed by suspected drunk driver

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