Arizona Drunk Driving Statistics

November 1, 2019

In an age where tolerance is admired, coveted, and hopefully practiced in most facets of our society, there is one arena in which Arizona has taken a strict “zero-tolerance” position—and that is concerning drinking and driving. 

If you live or vacation in sunny AZ, you should know that the state of Arizona has the strictest DUI laws in the United States.  While getting behind the wheel after an evening of drinking—or even after one drink—is always a foolish and often tragic decision, drinking and driving  in Arizona has uniquely far-reaching repercussions.

Let’s look at some drunk driving statistics in Arizona as well as the current state laws you need to be aware of so that you are ever-cautious and always-mindful of your responsibility to yourself and to others who share the road with you.

The Statistics

Despite a drop in overall traffic accidents in 2018, Arizona had the deadliest year in over a decade with 1,010 total fatalities. Of those fatalities, Arizona DUI statistics 2018 show that alcohol was involved in 3.7% of all crashes and 26.3% of fatal crashes. 

2018 by the numbers:

  • Roughly 266 people lost their lives or killed someone else because of intoxicated driving.
  • Roughly 38 people caused non-lethal accidents because of intoxicated driving.

The Laws

And if simply being aware of  DUI statistics in Arizona is not enough to sober the mind (and body), taking a look at the state’s zero-tolerance stance will have you thinking twice and thinking wisely about driving a vehicle intoxicated. Just know that if you are caught, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

There are three types of DUIs in Arizona which carry with them hefty fines, jail sentencing, and the use of an ignition interlock device or car breathalyzer:

  • A basic DUI is one in which blood alcohol content is between 0.08% and 0.14%.
    • For the average-weight woman, this is 2-3 drinks* 
    • For the average-weight man, this is 3-4 drinks*
  • An extreme DUI is one in which blood alcohol content is 0.15% or higher.
    • For the average-weight woman, this is 4 or more drinks* 
    • For the average-weight man, this is 5 or more drinks*
  • An aggravated DUI is a situation in which a driver receives a DUI under any of the following circumstances:
    • The driver’s license is already suspended, revoked, or cancelled.
    • The driver has committed his or her third DUI offense within a 7-year period.
    • The driver has committed a DUI violation with a passenger under 15 years old in the car.
    • The driver has refused to submit a breath sample while under an ignition interlock device mandate.

It can never be emphasized enough: Arizona’s zero-tolerance law means that you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI even if you register a blood alcohol concentration less than the .08% allowed for driving.  

All that needs to be evident is that you show signs of impairment or intoxication according to the officer’s judgement. Even just one drink paired with a long day or not enough sleep could cause you to lose your alertness, fail the field sobriety test, and subject you to a DUI arrest.

Additionally, the zero-tolerance law states that anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 will be arrested and charged with a DUI no matter how slight their blood alcohol concentration.

The Penalties

Now that you know the criteria under which you will be considered impaired, let’s look at the penalties for impairment. It is here we should note that Arizona’s laws allow for random sobriety checkpoints. No matter “how close” you may be to your destination, you may be unhappily surprised to encounter a checkpoint. Especially when impaired, do not imagine that you will be the exception to the law.

So checkpoint or not, if you are pulled over by police officers and suspected of driving a vehicle under the influence, you will be subjected to a field test

  • If you refuse to take the test, your license will automatically be suspended for one year if it’s your 1st offense.
  • If it happens to be your 2nd or 3rd offense, your license will be automatically suspended for two years.

Other penalties for a DUI in Arizona are the following:

  • First Offense:
    • Jail—24 hours to 30 days
    • License Suspension—90 to 360 days
    • Fines—$250 to $2500
    • Interlock Ignition Device—required
    • Community Service
  • Second Offense:
    • Jail—30 to 120 days
    • License Suspension—Two years
    • Fines—$500 to $3250
    • Interlock Ignition Device—required
    • Community Service
  • Third Offense:
    • Jail—4 months or more
    • License Suspension—Two years
    • Fines—minimum $750 to $5000
    • Interlock Ignition Device—required
    • Community Service


If you’ve been convicted for any of the above offenses, you should be aware that the DUI arrest will stay on your record for 5 years.

Let these facts be an ever-present reminder to be wise, to have a designated driver, and when in doubt—never hesitate to call a car service. The $25+ dollars you spend may save your reputation, your financial future, and maybe even a life.

*One drink is 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine


NHTSA. State of Arizona Highway Safety Annual Report.

Low Cost Interlock. What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

KTAR News. Arizona Had Most Traffic Deaths in More Than A Decade in 2018. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Calculator

AAA DUI Justice Link. Standardized Field Sobriety Test.

I Drive Safely. AZ DUI Laws & Penalties.

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