DUI task force works at keeping roads safe

Local business became involved in getting the word out to the public about DUI enforcement over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Photo: Courtesy

Local business became involved in getting the word out to the public about DUI enforcement over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Photo: Courtesy

KINGMAN - The increased presence of the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and Kingman Police Department on the roads may have been a key component to the absence of alcohol-related fatal accidents or injuries over the holiday season.

The "DUI? Expect the Max" campaign combined with DUI enforcement awareness by local businesses may have contributed to the lack of fatalities and injuries.

"This year, there was a high-visibility statewide media campaign and we tried to involve our local media as well," said Sgt. Don Bischoff, MCSO DUI Task Force coordinator. "If you missed out on all the media coverage, all the patrol cars with flashing red and blue lights should have been a clue."

The two law enforcement agencies were part of six total agencies in the Western Arizona DUI Task Force that arrested 57 individuals for driving under the influence from Nov. 22 through Jan. 1.

"I think we did real well," Bischoff said. "We got a lot of agency participation."

On New Year's Eve, MCSO, KPD and the Department of Public Safety had nine DUI arrests and one consumption of alcohol by a minor arrest. There were a total of 225 DUI arrests and 69 consumption of alcohol by a minor arrests statewide.

From Nov. 22 to Jan. 1, the task force conducted 954 traffic stops, which led to 57 DUI arrests and 44 seat-belt and child-restraint citations. Both numbers are a sharp increase from the 36 DUI arrests and 22 seat-belt and child-restraint citations in 2005.

Statewide, there were 2,650 DUI arrests in 2006, up from 2,462 in 2005.

The increase is reflected in the extreme DUI arrests as well. There were 21 arrests in 2006, as opposed to 15 in 2005.

Though more people were arrested, the average blood-alcohol content of drivers arrested decreased from .158 percent in 2005 to .142 in 2006. The average blood-alcohol content of drivers arrested statewide was .146 in 2006, higher than those arrested by the task force over the holiday campaign.

In 2005, 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 across the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The numbers have not been released yet for 2006.