'Drunk driving, over the limit, under arrest'

MOHAVE COUNTY - The Mohave County Sheriff's Office participated in a statewide driving-under-the-influence enforcement campaign over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Statewide, more than 2,100 traffic contacts resulted in 62 total DUI arrests: 14 arrests were for extreme DUI, with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more; and five arrests were for aggravated DUI, a felony offense, for an average BAC of .16.

Sgt. Don Bischoff, MCSO DUI Task Force coordinator, said the Sheriff's Office had officers working in most populated areas of the county.

He said he was pleased with the outcome, and that the Mohave County Sheriff's Office had no alcohol-related traffic crashes during the enforcement campaign and only one minor injury crash involving one vehicle.

MCSO task force officers made more than 200 traffic contacts and arrested eight DUI offenders. Of those arrests, four were at the extreme level and one was an aggravated DUI. The average BAC level was .214, considerably higher than the statewide average, Bischoff said.

Bischoff said officers routinely encountered designated drivers providing a safe ride to those who had been drinking, and that many alcohol establishments regularly warned patrons not to drive after drinking, due to the highly visible increased Task Force activity.

It was reassuring to see the designated drivers and to have the alcohol servers helping get the message out, Bischoff said.

One arrest that raised concern was a wrong-way driver on a divided stretch of Highway 66 east of Kingman.

Officers were alerted to the situation and located the female driver heading into Kingman on the wrong side of the highway. Bischoff said officers were able to get her stopped and she was arrested for DUI.

The woman refused the Intoxilyzer test, so the arresting officer applied for and obtained a search warrant and drew a sample of her blood for testing.

This is a perfect example of two things. First, officers are trying to keep the streets and highways safe for the motoring public by searching out and apprehending DUI offenders. Second, if you refuse to submit to the required chemical testing, officers will apply for a search warrant in order to obtain a blood sample.

"Make no mistake. Our message is simple: Drunk driving, over the limit, under arrest. If we catch you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions. No excuses," said Sheriff Tom Sheahan.

"We will continue to conduct saturation patrols and other activities to save lives by getting more drunk drivers off our roadways."

Impaired driving is no accident; nor is it a victimless crime. In 2005, nearly 13,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency.

"Drunk driving is not worth the risk. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving can be significant," Bischoff said. "DUI? Expect the max!"

The Western Arizona DUI Task Force is comprised of participating agencies such as the MCSO, and sheriff's departments in La Paz and Yuma Counties, Kingman Police Department, the Department of Public Safety and various other law enforcement agencies in each of the three counties.