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9:35 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

DUI task force set for holidays

MOHAVE COUNTY - The Mohave County Sheriff's Office deputies will beef up their patrols this Thanksgiving weekend as part of a statewide DUI enforcement campaign running through New Year's Day.

Last year, Arizona's DUI Task Forces arrested more than 2,462 impaired drivers, 36 of which were arrested by the Western Arizona DUI Task Force.

The Western Arizona DUI Task Force is comprised off law enforcement offices in Mohave, La Paz and Yuma counties.

Sgt. Don Bischoff, MCSO DUI Task Force coordinator, said that the Sheriff's Office would have officers working in all areas of the county during key holiday dates. He added a command post would be set up somewhere on Stockton Hill Road Thanksgiving weekend to process arrests made by officers.

If you don't notice more officers on the roadways, you might notice TV and radio ads about the dangers of drinking and driving with the slogan "DUI? Expect the Max."

Bischoff explained individuals found driving under the influence often face jail time, the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, big attorney fees, unpaid time away from work and dozens of other expenses.

Last year across the nation, nearly 13,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During the holiday campaign last year, 15 of the total 36 people arrested by the Western Arizona DUI Task Force were labeled as extreme DUI. The average blood-alcohol content of drivers arrest was .158 percent. Law enforcement won't just be keeping an eye out for impaired drivers, but individuals not wearing seat belts.

According to the NHTSA, 55 percent of all traffic fatalities across America during the Thanksgiving weekend last year were of people not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

"Because law enforcement officials have seen first hand the severe injury and death that comes from low seat belt use, we are going to be out in force working this issue, along with the DUI enforcement, hard throughout the Thanksgiving weekend," Bischoff said.

The Thanksgiving weekend may be more highly enforced by the MCSO, but more than half of the 31,415 passenger vehicle occupants who died in traffic crashes during 2005 were not wearing their seat belts, according to the NHTSA.

During last year's holiday season campaign, the Western Arizona DUI Task Force issued 20 seat belt and two car seat citations.

"This is not about writing more tickets," Bischoff said. "It's about saving more lives."