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Wed, Sept. 18

Tri-city area Memorial Day DUI arrests down from 2002<BR>Numbers are in line with statewide weekend results

PRESCOTT – Tri-city law enforcement officers arrested 10 people for driving under the influence over the holiday weekend.

Prescott Police Department Sgt. Rich Gill said his crew arrested eight people for DUI over the course of three days. He said the average blood alcohol level was .13, that one of the arrests led to a charge of extreme DUI and one involved a person younger than 21. He said all of the arrests were misdemeanor violations.

Prescott Valley Police Lt. P.J. Janik said his agency arrested only two people for DUI but issued at least a dozen seat belt citations. Chino Valley Police Department had no DUI-related arrests, Chino Valley Police Det. Mark Garcia said.

Janik said an abatement grant that his agency received from the governor's office enabled his department to assign two officers who specifically worked on screening drivers for DUI.

Gill said a lack of money to organize multi-agency saturation patrols is why they didn't have as many arrests this year compare d to 2002.

Last year "we had a multi-agency task force out there," he said, adding that officers arrested 22 people for DUI violations. "We had much more coverage so we had more DUI arrests."

Those statistics mirror statewide results, in which officers arrested 466 alleged DUI drivers, half as many as in 2002.

This year, the tri-city law enforcement agencies didn't receive money in time from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to organize another multi-agency saturation patrol during the Memorial Day weekend, Gill said.

"That money has recently been released and we'll start scheduling those multi-agency saturation patrols for the next couple months," he said, adding that they received about $30,000.

He said six officers were patrolling the streets of Prescott over the holiday weekend, but they didn't concentrate only on DUI screenings. He said that, in 2002, 28 officers patrolled the area over the course of the long weekend.

Janik said that a constant attempt to send a message across that "drinking and driving is not a good thing" is another reason DUI arrests have decreased.

He said people realize they will face a great chance of being arrested if they opt to drive after consuming alcohol or using drugs.

Although the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) didn't make any DUI arrests in the tri-city area over the holiday weekend, the YCSO Special Crimes Unit conducted an impaired driver enforcement detail in Verde Valley on Saturday night. Other agencies participated, including the Department of Public Safety, Clarkdale Police Department, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, the Sedona Police Depart-ment, YCSO Mobile Command Post volunteers, and the Yavapai County chapter of Mother's Against Drunk Driving.

During a six-hour period, authorities stopped 114 vehicles and arrested nine people for DUI. The average blood alcohol level was .109.

Eight of those people face misdemeanor charges while one person has been charged with felony DUI. In addition, deputies arrested six people for possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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