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3:17 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

DUI Task Force issues annual holiday advice

KINGMAN - The Western Arizona DUI Task Force has made 20 arrests for driving under the influence since Thanksgiving, with authorities stepping up enforcement through the New Year.

The task force, made up of officers from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and the Kingman Police Department, as well as officers from La Paz and Yuma counties, has made 361 traffic stops since Nov. 19.

Of the 20 drivers arrested for drunken driving, five had a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or above, almost twice the legal limit of .08 percent. Fifteen of those stops also resulted in minor in consumption citations.

Sgt. Don Bischoff said there were more than 240 alcohol-related crashes last year. Thirteen people were killed and 175 were injured. Statewide, 261 people were killed in 2009 and 4,100 injured in crashes involving alcohol.

Those arrested for DUI face an administrative hearing before the Motor Vehicle Department, which could include a suspension of driving privileges.

At the time of arrest, police will take the driver's Arizona license and issue a 15-day temporary license.

Most first-time offenders receive a 90-day suspension of their license. The driver is also stuck with towing and impound fees, and even first-time offenders can be forced to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Criminal penalties can range from jail time, a minimum fine of $250 plus surcharges and an additional $250 assessment to the Arizona DUI abatement fund.

Those who refuse the BAC test almost always lose their license for a year.

Holiday tips

The Western Arizona DUI Task Force recommends these simple tips for a safe holiday season:

• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.

• Before drinking, designate a sober driver.

• If you're impaired, use a taxi or call a sober friend or family member.

• If you happen to see a drunken driver on the road, call 911.