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4:54 PM Mon, Nov. 19th

DUI task force already posting results

Law enforcement officers from around the state gathered in Phoenix Dec. 3 to officially kick off the 2013 holiday season DUI crackdown.  (Courtesy)

Law enforcement officers from around the state gathered in Phoenix Dec. 3 to officially kick off the 2013 holiday season DUI crackdown. (Courtesy)

KINGMAN - Two weeks into the month-long operation, the Western Arizona DUI Taskforce crackdown has yielded results, with 12 allegedly impaired drivers arrested.

The dozen motorists had an average blood alcohol content of 0.137, according to Kingman Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Sochocki.

The Western Arizona DUI Task Force is one of 17 in Arizona and consists of law enforcement officers from the KPD, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, the police departments in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Hualapai Tribal Police, and the sheriff's offices of LaPaz and Yuma counties.

More than 700 motorists have been stopped since the operation began shortly before Thanksgiving Day, said Sochocki. The KPD's mobile command post has been up each weekend helping to process impaired drivers. The operation will continue through Jan. 1.

Last year, more than 5,000 people were arrested for DUI in Arizona between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, with an average blood alcohol content of 0.15, nearly double the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Not all DUIs are alcohol related. Sochocki said abuse of illegal and prescription drugs is on the rise and that has led to an increase in DUI arrests.

Kingman Police Sgt. Dan Spivey last year conducted a number of evaluations on subjects who were arrested for DUI while under the influence of drugs.

He concluded that, oftentimes, just one or two alcoholic drinks combined with a single prescription drug dose can "severely impair" a person's ability to drive safely.

The task forces are funded with grants from the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

The money is used to pay for overtime and other expenses that allow the 70 agencies that participate across the state to conduct DUI patrols without taking officers away from routine duties.

Authorities believe a high number of DUI arrests will be made during the 2013 holiday season, but they're wishing for the best.

"My hope is that we are going to have less DUI arrests and more designated drivers," said Alberto Gutier, director of the governor's highway safety office.

Sochocki said the KPD and the Western Arizona DUI Task Force encourage holiday revelers to use a designated driver or to call a cab when indulging away from home.