Ducey urges lawmakers to crack down on wrong-way drivers

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The governor called for the creation of a “Wrong-Way Driver Night Watch” within the Department of Public Safety. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The governor called for the creation of a “Wrong-Way Driver Night Watch” within the Department of Public Safety. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Ducey urged legislators to pass a bill that would make all wrong-way driving under the influence a felony, regardless of whether it results in a crash. (Source: Pool) Ducey urged legislators to pass a bill that would make all wrong-way driving under the influence a felony, regardless of whether it results in a crash. (Source: Pool)
When a wrong-way driver crashed into Michael Moretti in 2016, prosecutors charged the driver with felonies for drug possession and endangerment, but only misdemeanor DUI. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) When a wrong-way driver crashed into Michael Moretti in 2016, prosecutors charged the driver with felonies for drug possession and endangerment, but only misdemeanor DUI. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Neither the governor’s office nor DPS released many specifics about the night watch program. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Neither the governor’s office nor DPS released many specifics about the night watch program. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Governor Doug Ducey called on state lawmakers Monday to pass new legislation aimed at cracking down on wrong-way drivers.

In his state of the state address, the governor called for the creation of a “Wrong-Way Driver Night Watch” within the Department of Public Safety and urged legislators to pass a bill that would make all wrong-way driving under the influence a felony, regardless of whether it results in a crash.

[READ MORE: Gov. Ducey calls for more school funding, new opioid law]

“Those reckless enough to put lives on the line by driving the wrong way on our highways, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, should face a felony conviction and prison time. No exceptions,” he said.

[FULL TEXT: Gov. Ducey's state of the state address]

Currently, not all DUIs are felonies. When a wrong-way driver crashed into Michael Moretti in 2016, prosecutors charged the driver with felonies for drug possession and endangerment, but only misdemeanor DUI.

Moretti said the crash sent his Jeep rolling several times, but he was not seriously hurt.

[RELATED: Arizona installs overhead signs on I-17 to alert wrong-way drivers]

“I think it's a good start,” Moretti said of the governor’s proposals. “There's really nothing you can do to prevent people from making dumb decisions, but maybe making the consequences harsher would stop some people from even trying to drive intoxicated.”

[SPECIAL SECTION: Wrong-way drivers in Arizona]

Neither the governor’s office nor DPS released many specifics about the night watch program. In his speech, the governor called for “an enhanced ‘Wrong-Way Driver Night Watch,’ with resources to match.”

A DPS spokesperson declined to say exactly how the night watch program would augment its existing round-the-clock coverage. The spokesperson said only that the night watch was tied to proposed legislation.

[RELATED: DPS director says wrong-way crashes are social issue]

The governor’s proposals come as ADOT continues work on a first-of-its-kind thermal detection system along I-17 for wrong-way drivers.

[READ MORE: Why spike strips won't stop Arizona's wrong-way crashes]

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Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

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Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

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