PRIMER: Cracking Down On Wrong-Way Driving

News Release

April 2, 2018

Cracking down on wrong-way driving remains a top priority for Governor Ducey. In his 2018 State of the State, Governor Ducey said:

“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.

“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.”

Here are some examples of efforts taken to prevent and mitigate wrong-way driving in order to increase public safety for Arizona residents and visitors:

Stricter Penalties
Legislation signed by Governor Ducey in March of 2018 implements stricter penalties for wrong-way driving traffic offenses.

Two out of three wrong-way crashes are caused by impaired drivers who often have blood-alcohol levels over twice the legal limit. Wrong-way drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol will now face felony charges and up to 18 months of prison time.

Individuals who drive the wrong way on a controlled access highway will be subject to a $500 civil penalty and must complete Traffic Safety School.

Thermal Camera Detection Program
In 2017, Governor Ducey ordered the launch of an innovative thermal camera detection system. The first-in-the-nation system, located along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 in Phoenix, detects wrong-way vehicles entering the highway and alerts both law enforcement and other drivers. Since the start of 2018, the system has already detected 12 wrong-way drivers. 

Enhanced Night Watch
The fiscal year 2019 Executive Budget provides $1.4 million to increase the presence of State Troopers during the Department of Public Safety’s “Night Watch” in the metropolitan Phoenix area. A greater State Trooper presence will improve patrol coverage and response times to wrong-way and impaired drivers.