Originally Published: January 7, 2010 10:23 p.m.
Law enforcement officers stopped more than twice the number of drivers during this year's statewide holiday DUI task force than the past year, and arrested almost 40 percent more for DUI, a state spokesman said.
During the statewide task force from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, law enforcement made 65,217 traffic stops and arrested 4,465 people for DUI, including 960 for extreme DUI, said Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor's Office on Highway Safety. This past year, officers made 27,896 stops and 2,720 DUI arrests, including 738 for extreme DUI during the same period, Gutier said.
"If we save even one life, it's worth it," Gutier said.
A person with an extreme DUI registers a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or above, nearly twice the blood alcohol content of 0.08 for a regular DUI, said Officer Brian Sanders of the Chino Valley Police Department.
"This year, 1,351 sober designated drivers identified themselves to law enforcement officers throughout the state," Gutier said. "From what I hear from officers on the detail, this is mostly among young people. They're getting the message not to drink and drive and to make sure to have a designated driver."
From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office arrested 55 people for DUI, Prescott police arrested 34, Prescott Valley police arrested 33 and Chino Valley police arrested 10, Gutier said.
"There are still DUIs out there, and not everyone is complying," said Sgt. Tim Fletcher, traffic section supervisor for the Prescott Police Department.
The Tri-City DUI task force made 254 traffic stops, and arrested nine people for DUI, including three for extreme DUI on New Year's Eve, Fletcher said. Forty two drivers told police they were designated drivers during the stops, Fletcher said.
"There were many designated drivers out enjoying themselves on New Year's Eve who made that conscious choice," Fletcher said.
Task force members include Prescott, Cottonwood and Clarkdale police, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Camp Verde Marshal's Office and Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
In Prescott, officers made 72 traffic stops and only one DUI arrest on New Year's Eve, Fletcher said.
"In Prescott, there were a lot of people around New Year's Eve making good decisions not to drink and drive," Fletcher said. "We'd like people to make those same kinds of wise decisions every day of the year."
The three officers on DUI detail in Chino Valley on New Year's Eve saw the same thing, Sanders said.
"The officers said they saw a lot of taxi cabs," Sanders said. "It looks like drivers got the message here in Chino Valley not to drink and drive."
Chino Valley officers stopped 17 drivers, and arrested one driver for extreme DUI on New Year's Eve, Sanders said. Officers found one designated driver, he said.
Prescott Valley police on the New Year's Eve DUI task force contacted 137 drivers, arrested six for DUI, including one for extreme DUI, and contacted six people who identified themselves as designated drivers, said Sgt. Brandon Bonney, spokesman for the Prescott Valley Police Department.
"Prescott Valley police would like to thank the Governor's Office on Highway Safety for their grants that help fund overtime for DUI enforcement," Bonney said.
Sheriff's deputies on the New Year's Eve DUI detail stopped 66 drivers, and arrested eight for DUI, including one for extreme DUI, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies arrested two for DUI drugs and both told deputies they were designated drivers, D'Evelyn said.