DUI patrols out in force

KINGMAN - Those looking to celebrate the holiday this weekend with a drink or two may want to stay close to home or have a designated driver. The Western Arizona DUI Task Force will have extra patrols out this weekend looking for drunken drivers.

The task force includes officers from La Paz and Mohave County sheriff's offices and the Kingman, Bullhead City and Quartzsite City Police departments.

Last year, the task force stopped 497 motorists: nine were arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI, three were arrested on suspicion of aggravate DUI and 23 were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI.

The average blood alcohol concentration last year was 0.172. The state limit is 0.08.

The task force also cited one motorist under the age of 21 for DUI and 11 minors for consumption of alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal crashes nationwide, involving at least one driver with a BAC of .08 or higher, have decreased from 35 percent in 1982 to 20 percent in 2005 and have leveled off since then.

NHTSA attributes the decline in alcohol-related fatal crashes mainly to changes in drunken driving laws, especially laws that decreased the BAC limit in most states from .10 to .08, laws that revoke a driver's license if the driver fails or refuses to take a BAC test, laws that prohibit drinking under the age of 21 and zero tolerance laws for motorists under the age of 21 who are caught driving drunk.

Items also having an affect on the decline in fatal drunken driving crashes include a decline in motorists between the ages of 18 and 34 years old, an increase in the number of female drivers and a small reduction in the per capita rate of alcohol consumption. Female drivers, according to a study by NHTSA, are less likely to drink and drive.