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9:19 PM Wed, Jan. 23rd

Police see increase in DUI arrests<BR>But, see lower average blood-alcohol content

PRESCOTT – The Prescott Police Department did arrest more people for DUI this Labor Day weekend, but some other local law enforcement agencies did not contribute to the statewide rise in the number of DUI arrests made over the holiday weekend.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety District 12, which encompasses Prescott, Prescott Valley, Seligman, the Verde Valley and Cordes Junction, reported a decrease in the number of DUI arrests over the Labor Day holiday weekend – despite the new DUI law that lowered the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level from 0.10 to 0.08.

Several law enforcement agencies teamed up to form a 13-member DUI task force that patrolled Saturday night.

Prescott Police officers who participated in the task force removed 13 impaired drivers from the road, said Sgt. Rich Gill. Last year, Prescott police officers made only three DUI arrests during the Labor Day weekend.

"That was a lot of activity," Gill said.

Of the 13 people Prescott officers arrested, only one had a BAC level be-tween 0.08 and 0.09.

The average BAC of those arrested was 0.10 this year. Last year the average BAC was much higher – 0.17 – Gill said. Gill also said there were no serious accidents or fatalities over this holiday weekend.

DPS District 12 reported nine DUI arrests this Labor Day weekend. Last year, there were 11 arrests. According to Deana Woods, DPS office coordinator, the average BAC of people arrested for DUI was 0.14, just slightly less than the extreme DUI blood alcohol content of 0.15.

And, YCSO also reported a drop in the number of DUI arrests during the holiday weekend.

YCSO spokeswoman Sharon Wachter said deputies arrested 19 people for DUI during the 2000 Labor Day weekend and this year deputies made only six arrests.

"It was considerably lower this year," she said.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, said that the number of DUI arrests in the state is the highest it has been in five years.

Gutier said that, despite the increase in DUI arrests and traffic stops this year, the ratio of traffic stops to DUI arrests did decrease.

During the 2000 Labor Day weekend, law enforcement agencies made a total of 9,074 traffic stops statewide and of those stops there were 560 DUI arrests. This year, officers made a total of 16,141 stops, of which 925 resulted in DUI arrests.

"If we look at the total number of traffic stops versus the number of DUI arrests, it went down from (approximately) 8 percent to 6 percent," he said.

The total number of people arrested for having a BAC of 0.08 or 0.09 was 78. The state-wide average BAC of those arrested did drop from 0.161 in 2000 to 0.154.

"That's above the extreme level but it's still down," Gutier said.

In April the BAC level for an extreme DUI dropped from 0.18 to 0.15.