Were Arizona Drivers 4.6% Dumber Last Weekend?

Arizona driver with dunce capNot all bad decisions are necessarily dumb ones, but some are. If you check all the restaurant reviews carefully and still end up with a lousy meal, it was a bad decision, but probably not a dumb one.

But if you make the decision to drink and drive, despite a few generations of warnings as to the dangers and legal consequences, then that qualifies as a dumb decision.

By that reckoning, 552 Arizonans made a dumb decision on Memorial Day weekend. According to news reports that’s how many drivers were arrested for DUI. The number is 4.6 percent larger than last year.

Extreme DUI (a BAC of .15 or higher) was also higher. Last year 97 people blew a .15 or more. This year it was 119. That’s a more serious increase: about 22 percent.

Dumbness, Dumb Luck, or Better Policing?

What’s going on? The national IQ did not go down 5 percent within one year. Some of the people arrested in 2017 might even have driven drunk on Memorial Day 2016 and gotten away with it. Perhaps the thousands of officers who plied the state’s roads looking for drunk drivers have gotten better at it. Training improves, technology gets better, and more DUIs get bagged as a result.

Or it might be that Arizona is getting careless. Or it might be a meaningless variation, and next year the numbers will regress back to the mean.

But people aren’t numbers – they’re individuals who make the decision to get in their cars after imbibing alcohol. Statistics can’t explain why an individual ignores the warnings about drunk driving that have been hammered into his or her ear for years.

Which brings us back to dumbness. We’re not claiming that stupidity is on the rise in Arizona yet, but we’ll be watching next year’s totals. Meanwhile, we encourage you to do the smart thing if you’re drinking, and use a designated driver.