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DUI arrest numbers down, but driving under the influence of drugs is up in Arizona

Law enforcement officers gathered at the state capitol Tuesday to kick off the annual "Drive Hammered, Get Nailed" campaign.

PHOENIX — The number of DUI arrests over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year is down from last year and the year before.

These numbers are good news, but law enforcement is still gearing up for the kickoff of the statewide DUI enforcement campaign

The good news is, DUI arrests were down over the Thanksgiving holiday, but what law enforcement is seeing a lot more of is DUI crashes involving drugs like marijuana and opioids. 

RELATED: 'It was a gross oversight': Attorney's office explains how they ended up not charging man PD says hit & killed 2 people while driving drunk

For Peoria Police Chief Art Miller, preventing drunk driving hits close to home. 

When he was a young officer, he was a first responder to a drunk driving accident that left a 17-year-old girl dead, Miller told the media during a press conference Tuesday at the state capitol. 

"The car she was in was hit by a drunk driver. She was catapulted from the rear seat through the front windshield, and that’s something I’ve carried with me my entire career," Miller said.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, 330 people were arrested for DUIs. That’s a drop from 420 arrests during Thanksgiving in 2018.

But the newest concern for those patrolling our roads is marijuana.

"We cite cannabis as the No. 1 recognized drug category; 45% of drivers who were killed in crashes had that drug in their system," said Chris Murphy with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Murphy said it’s often difficult for law enforcement to recognize marijuana use.

Over this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there were 97 DUI Drug arrests.

As for Chief Miller,  he said he doesn’t want to see anyone arrested for DUI.

"Law enforcement has one goal. That is to keep our community safe. We are committed," Chief Miller said. 

RELATED: Report: Millions of Americans driving while high

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