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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:23 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Editorial: Drinking, driving still don't mix

By now it should be common knowledge that DUI task forces are going to be out in force on holiday weekends looking for drunk drivers.

Word got out well ahead of time from the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety that patrols would be stepped up from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.

Yet, officers arrested 4,371 people from Nov. 24 until Jan. 1. Here are some arrest totals that the agency released at the end of the holiday: 1,098 arrests on suspicion of extreme DUI, 450 on suspicion of aggravated DUI and 934 on DUI drug-related charges. The average blood-alcohol content of those arrested was reportedly 0.15 percent. The state's legal limit is 0.08.

The number of arrests during that span of time is sobering, particularly since it is greater than 2011's 4,058 and 2010's 3,880. The statistics for this period are also disconcerting, because Arizona Department of Public Safety figures indicate that, overall, drunk driving arrests and fatalities have gone down over the past 15 years.

But, apparently not enough drivers are wising up to the fact that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking too much is the ultimate in risk-taking.

Alcohol.about.com offers some salient points on the topic.

• Alcohol accidents are so prevalent that an estimated 40 percent of all people in the United States will be involved in a traffic mishap blamed on alcohol sometime in their lifetimes.

• Motor vehicle wrecks are the leading cause of death for people under age 24, and 40 percent of these are alcohol-related.

• A driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or higher is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash than a driver who has had no alcohol. And, a person with a BAC of 0.15 or more is about 25 times more likely.

The thinking that "just one more beer" can't hurt is a drunken delusion.

Read on.

According to the same website, a 160-pound person who drinks a couple of beers in an hour would probably blow a BAC of 0.04, well below the legal limit. But, this person is 1.4 times more likely to have an accident than the person who abstains.

Keep swilling down the "one more for the road," and the risks for getting picked up - or even worse - causing an accident, rise exponentially. A six pack of beer will likely put a person's BAC level close to 0.15, with the chance of having an accident 380 times higher than the sober motorist.

"Making resolutions" are the big hype each new year.

Consider this simple one: Don't drink and drive. Stay home. Get a cab. Or, find a designated driver.