Payson Can Now Charge Drunk Drivers For Response Teams

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The state cracks down with big fines, license revocations, automatic jail time for drunk drivers and now the Payson Town Council wants to charge for fire trucks and paramedics.

The Payson council unanimously approved an ordinance that will allow the town to charge drunk or drug-impaired drivers for the emergency crews that respond to an accident they cause.

The charges include $450 for the first hour and $250 for each additional hour for a fire truck, plus $200 an hour for an incident commander. Other charges include $400 for an ambulance and $500 for a ladder company.

Drunk drivers cause about 14,000 fatal accidents each year nationally, which accounts for about 37 percent of all accidents. However, the toll of drunk drivers has been dropping steadily since 1982, when legislatures began ramping up the penalties.

Anyone with a blood alcohol level of .08 qualifies as legally drunk. Blood alcohol levels depend on body size and other factors, but generally two drinks in an hour put a person over the limit.

Back in 1982, drunk drivers killed 26,000 people, which accounted for 60 percent of all fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Arizona comes in at the middle of the pack among states, with 329 fatalities involving drunk drivers — about 32 percent of the total fatalities.

Arizona’s drunk driving laws for a first offense include fines of $1,460, one to10 days in jail and a 90- to 360-day license suspension.

A second offense, in theory, involves a $3,410 fine, 30 to 90 days in jail, 30 days community service, a one-year license suspension, drug or alcohol screening and completion of an education or treatment program.

A third offense includes a $4,600 fine, four months in jail, a one-year license suspension and court-ordered treatment.

So, now if a drunk driver causes a crash in Payson, they can count on an extra $1,000 or so to pay for all those firefighters shaking their heads wondering why there’s so many fools in the world. Assuming, of course, the fool in question survives.

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