- Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay. 

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay. 

In 2019, Arizona led the nation in taking legislative measures to combat drunk driving, and drunk driving fatalities fell by nearly a third, according to a new report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Drunk driving crashes claimed the lives of 10,511 people In 2018 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Arizona, convicted drunk drivers must use an ignition interlock before obtaining unrestricted driving privileges — one of the strictest laws in the nation and one that’s proving to get results.

In addition, Arizona requires ignition interlocks for one year for refusing a breath test, treats driving drunk with a child passenger as a felony and allows for the immediate suspension of a license (ALR) if the driver is arrested for DUI or a refusal.

For the MADD report, states are awarded stars in different categories related to the implementation of drunk driving laws and other proven countermeasures. The average national rating in 2019 was 3.16 out of 5 stars, representing an increase from 2.96 in 2018.

Arizona received a perfect score of five stars for 2019.

Eight states that came in at a close second, each receiving a rating of 4.5 include Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

The MADD initiative rates states on five categories: Ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders; conducting sobriety checkpoints; administratively revoking driving privileges upon arrest for drunk driving; creating enhanced penalties for those who drive drunk with a child; and adopting penalties and expediting warrants for suspected drunk drivers who refuse an alcohol test.

States that scored low because they made few efforts to improve drunk driving laws include Michigan, South Dakota and Wyoming, all of which received ratings of 1.5 stars or lower. Montana received the lowest rating, with just a half-star.

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