Felony wrong-way driving bill signed into law in Arizona
PHOENIX — People who drive the wrong way on an Arizona freeway while impaired can now be charged with a felony under a bill signed by Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday.
Under the law, a person found guilty of driving the wrong way could be fined $500 and must attend traffic school.
Drivers suspected of being impaired will be charged with a Class 4 felony.
Ducey called for the law during his State of the State address in January.
“We wake up too frequently these days to the report of another death on our highways — a wrong-way driver and in many cases, it comes back to drugs or alcohol” he said during the speech.
“You’d think it was obvious by now, but to anyone out there who hasn’t gotten the memo: Booze, drugs and driving don’t mix. Your actions are beyond foolish. They are lethal and we will not tolerate it.”
More than 1,700 wrong-way drivers were reported in Arizona last year, up from 2016. Col. Frank Milstead, who heads the Arizona Department of Public Safety, told KTAR News 92.3 FM late last year that intoxication played a large part in the number of people driving in the wrong direction.
“If you look at the numbers of arrested drunk drivers over the last 10 years, they haven’t changed a lot because we as a society haven’t gotten in front of this issue and decided it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Ducey also proposed additional funding for a program that would increase response times to wrong-way drivers.