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Tue, Nov. 12

New Year's patrols result in 17 arrests

PRESCOTT – Local law enforcement arrested 17 people on driving under the influence of alcohol charges on New Year's Eve.

Prescott Police Sgt. Rich Gill said the average blood alcohol level was 0.154, which he described as being very high.

In the state of Arizona, a 0.15 blood alcohol level or greater qualifies as extreme DUI.

In addition, police arrested six people on underage drinking charges while three people went to jail on drug-related charges.

He said the number of DUI arrests is significant considering that drivers knew that law enforcement was conducting saturation patrols that night. He added that the number is also high considering the amount of traffic, which he described as being very "light."

The Northern Arizona DUI Task Force, which included 16 officers from six local law enforcement agencies including Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley Police departments, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) and the Department of Public Safety, stopped 117 vehicles. They issued seven seat belt tickets and 78 miscellaneous citations.

The number of DUI arrests on New Year's Eve is also much greater than the number of arrests on Halloween night, when the Task Force conducted the most recent saturation patrols. Officers arrested 10 drivers then on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The average blood alcohol level was 0.12.

On Friday statewide law enforcement arrested 275 people on DUI charges. (Local arrests are part of this number.) The average blood alcohol level was 0.140.

Between Nov. 25 and Dec. 31, when the statewide Holiday DUI Task Force enforcement concluded, officers stopped nearly 17,200 vehicles and arrested 2,580 people on DUI-related charges statewide.

The average blood alcohol level was 0.143. About 170 drivers are facing aggravated DUI charges. Some 2,100 officers from 352 law enforcement agencies participated in this Holiday DUI effort.

Meanwhile, YCSO has recorded a significant increase in DUI arrests and other impaired driver statistics for the 2004 calendar year, according to the YCSO DUI arrests increased from about 410 in 2003 to 510 in 2004, or 24 percent. Drug-impaired driver arrests increased by about 42 percent, from about 120 in 2003 to 170 in 2004.

Law enforcement personnel completed about 320 or 72 percent more of evidentiary blood draws in 2004 than during the previous year. YCSO currently has 15 certified drug recognition experts and 20 qualified law enforcement phlebotomists.

YCSO recently received two traffic grants totaling about $55,000. The agency will use the money to provide additional man power, training and equipment that relates to impaired driver enforcement, speed enforcement and other traffic issues in Yavapai County.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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