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Arizona law enforcement after impaired drivers this holiday season

Posted at 10:05 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 00:05:05-05

PHOENIX — One year ago, many people were not gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season amid the pandemic.

Yet, with fewer drivers on the road in 2020, there were more deadly crashes. The Arizona Department of Transportation tracked 1,057 lives lost across the state.

And in 2021, with New Year's celebrations still on the way, the latest data has the deadly crash count at 1,047 before the Christmas holiday.

Operation Safe Roads has checked to see what the state is doing to help.

Nearly 90 law enforcement agencies have come together with a common cause that is far greater than improving statistics with the Statewide Holiday DUI Task Force.

"I want you to think... that if right now you were taken out of the lives of all the people that care about you and love you - how many lives that would impact," Arizona DPS Col. Heston Silbert asked. "You see because numbers... you can get lost in numbers. They tend not to tell the whole story."

Officials are counting on drivers to make the right decision as the calendar year comes to a close.

The time frame between Thanksgiving and the new year is one of the deadliest on our roads.

"We're just all too familiar with how devastating the past two years have been," said Governor Doug Ducey. "Far too many Arizonans have passed away from COVID-19, an opioid overdose, or one of the other many challenges...only made worse by this pandemic."

The Governor revealed the state's plan of attack earlier this month to try and take the keys away from impaired drivers.

"Every Arizonan has it in their power to prevent more suffering by choosing not to operate a vehicle while impaired," Governor Ducey said.

He went on to tell ABC15, Arizona had more than 4,000 alcohol-related crashes last year with about 200 people killed. Now, hundreds of their loved ones are dealing with the impact now.

"I'll be honest though. This year is very personal to me and my department and the rest of the city," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. "In May of this year, we lost one of our own, Ginarro New, to a drunk driver who was driving three times the legal limit. He was only 27 years old."

Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Alberto Gutier said 1,800 officers have been trained this year statewide to participate in their Statewide Holiday DUI Task Force.

As of Dec. 17, 2021, the task force has arrested nearly 30,000 drivers for DUI. That's the highest number we've seen since 2014.

Have a road issue or a question for Operation Safe Roads? You can call 833-AZ-ROADS or email