Task force looks to increase safety on holiday weekend
KINGMAN Those who choose to indulge in alcohol over the coming Independence Day holiday weekend first need to establish a designated sober driver or plan to stay out from behind the wheel. And, those who don't drink need to be on the lookout for those who do.
Locally, the Kingman Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety have joined forces in a DUI task force to keep alcohol and drug-impaired drivers off the roads. The combined agency effort is the local arm of the Western Arizona DUI Taskforce, which will be out in force and on the watch for impaired drivers throughout the western part of the state.
"Our primary goal will be locating and apprehending impaired drivers," said KPD Officer Dan Spivey. "Everyone who is arrested for DUI will be booked into the Mohave County Jail here in Kingman."
Spivey estimates as many as 10 officers from the three law enforcement agencies will be patrolling highways and roadways in and around Kingman, Golden Valley and surrounding communities at any given time.
"This is a highly traveled holiday weekend coming up," he said. "We encourage people to use good judgment. If you choose to drink, make alternate arrangements. Either choose a designated driver or stay at home. Don't put the key in the ignition and drive."
Spivey said 17 DUI task forces throughout the state caught 324 impaired drivers during the 2004 Independence Day holiday weekend. Of those, 103 were extreme DUI cases. Extreme DUI offenders are those with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.15 or higher. The penalty is a mandatory 10 days in jail, Spivey said.
He said 16 people were killed during the July 4 weekend last year. Half of those deaths involved drivers who were drunk or on drugs.
In addition to the DUI task force, the governor's Office of Highway Safety is taking a zero tolerance stance on its ongoing Click-It-or-Ticket program to encourage seat-belt use.
"We'll be watching not just for DUIs; we'll be enforcing the seat-belt law, as well," Spivey said.
"Unfortunately, the numbers (of impaired drivers and highway deaths) have been rising over the past couple of years," he said. "We're trying very hard to keep those numbers down."