Keeping highways safe

DUI task force works to keep drunken drivers off roadways

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Center was used to process those arrested on DUI charges over the Thanksgiving weekend. Photo: Courtesy

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Center was used to process those arrested on DUI charges over the Thanksgiving weekend. Photo: Courtesy

MOHAVE COUNTY - The statewide driving under the influence enforcement campaign over the Thanksgiving weekend led to 62 total DUI arrests, eight of which were conducted by the Western Arizona DUI Task Force, comprised of law enforcement officers in Mohave, La Paz and Yuma counties.

More than 200 traffic stops were conducted in the three counties of the total 2,100 stops conducted statewide over the weekend.

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office had no alcohol-related traffic accidents and only one minor injury accident involving one vehicle during the increased law enforcement presence on the roadway.

According to Sgt. Don Bischoff, Mohave County Sheriff's Office DUI Task Force coordinator, officers routinely encountered designated drivers providing a safe ride to those who had been drinking. But the weekend wasn't totally smooth sailing for law enforcement.

The average blood-alcohol content of individuals arrested in the three counties was .214, higher than the average BAC of .16 for the state. Four of the eight arrests were at the extreme level, about a .15 BAC.

The officers were alerted to a driver driving the wrong way on a divided stretch of Highway 66 east of Kingman on Saturday. Katherine Perkins, 61, of Kingman was stopped by officers as she was heading into Kingman on the wrong side of the highway. She arrested on DUI charges.

Perkins refused a Breathalyzer test, but the arresting officer was able to obtain a search warrant to draw a sample of her blood for testing. She was booked in the Mohave County Jail for felony DUI and on a misdemeanor contempt of court warrant.

Clayton Tapscott, 36, of Kingman was arrested on Friday for driving under the influence after a MCSO deputy caught Tapscott going 84 mph on Highway 66 near Castle Rock Road in Kingman. While pursuing Tapscott, the deputy allegedly saw him run two stop signs while speeding before he ran off the road.

Tapscott had a BAC of .147 according to a Breathalyzer test conducted by the deputy. He was booked for the DUI offense, having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle and displaying fictitious license plates.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said the MCSO will continue to conduct saturation patrols in an effort to remove drunken drivers from the roads. The increased patrols for the campaign will run 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.

During the holiday campaign last year, 15 of the total 36 people arrested by the Western Arizona DUI Task Force were labeled extreme DUI. The average blood-alcohol content of drivers arrested was .158 percent.

Law enforcement won't just be keeping an eye out for impaired drivers. They will also be looking for drivers not wearing seat belts. During last year's holiday season campaign, the Western Arizona DUI Task Force issued 20 seat-belt and two car-seat citations.