Holiday DUI arrests drop

KINGMAN - There were fewer driving under the influence arrests across the state this holiday season than 2007.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, 2,308 arrests were made in 2008, while 2,944 were made during the same period in 2007.

"This holiday weekend enforcement was successful," said Michael Hegarty, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "We are hopeful that this was a small step in the direction of reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road and thus reducing the number of crashes and fatalities."

A reason for the drop could be attributed to this year's campaign being shorter since Thanksgiving was a week later than 2007, Hegarty said.

"When you look at the numbers on the basis of officers/stop per DUI, the numbers were basically the same," Hegarty wrote in an e-mail, "but officers did report seeing and hearing about more designated drivers as we believe the educational and media/marketing campaigns are helping people find safe and sober alternative modes of transportation."

Hegarty also attributed the drop to bars and restaurants offering more options - from discounted cab rides to more car services - to help reduce the number of number of impaired drivers on the roads.

"We believe this was evident in the reduced number of extreme DUIs this year," Hegarty said. "In 2007, 32 percent of the offenders were extreme DUI (936); this year it dropped to 26 percent (611)."

Locally, members of the Western Arizona DUI Task Force had 70 officers participate. The Kingman Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff's Office, Bullhead City Police Department, La Paz County Sheriff's Office and Quartzsite Police Department made up the task force.

Of the 434 stops, there were 18 DUI arrests, two of which were aggravated. With the 18 arrests, eight were extreme and two individuals had prior DUI convictions.

The average blood alcohol content was 1.147 percent.

None of the DUI arrests involved individuals under the age of 21. There were six minor consumption citations issued.

There were 13 seat belt violations recorded and one child restraint citation. The task force issued 330 other citations.

"There are still a lot of people that need to learn not to drive impaired, and that's why we're thankful and appreciative of the officers and their support personnel who took time away from their families and friends this holiday season to remove these dangerous drivers from our roadways," said Richard Fimbres, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.