Dui Arrests Down Over Holidays

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A holiday roundup of drunken drivers ended with 12 DUI arrests locally, a slight decrease over last year, reported three state agencies.

Statewide, the number of arrests during the holiday crackdown, running Thanksgiving through New Year’s, was also down 22 percent over last year, an all-time low over the last four years, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported.

The Payson Police Department reported three DUI arrests from Dec. 24 through Jan. 4, a 40-percent drop over last year’s five DUI arrests.

“A lot of officers mentioned that on New Year’s, a lot more people were making arrangements for rides home by taxis, designated drivers or limo,” Engler said.

“We were very impressed with the fact that people were making other arrangements.”

Deputy Director Michael Hegarty of the highway safety office also said officers noticed more designated drivers on the streets.

“We believe the educational and media campaigns are helping people find safe and sober alternative modes of transportation,” Hegarty said.

Statewide officers made 2,308 DUI-related arrests, down from 2,944 in 2007. Last year the holiday crackdown ran an extra week.

The Department of Public Safety made seven DUI arrests during the holidays, the same amount as last year.

DPS Sgt. John Whetten reported five of the arrests were alcohol-related and two DUIs were for drugs.

A spokesperson with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office in Payson reported two DUI arrests during the holidays.

Whetten said on average he had two to three officers on duty and Engler said around seven officers worked the New Year holiday. Statewide, 2,598 officers and deputies participated in the crackdown.

“We had more officers this year with all the vacancies filled,” Whetten said. Last year, Whetten reported DPS only had four officers working the Rim Country and this year he was fully staffed with nine officers.

Every year, nearly 35,000 drivers are cited for DUI in Arizona, while nationally, an estimated 12,998 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2007, an average of almost 36 people a day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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