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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Drive hammered, get nailed

Law+enforcement+officers+conduct+%26%238220%3Bsaturation+patrols+at+sobriety+checkpoints+located+across+the+city+on+July+Fourth.+The+entire+DUI+prevention+squad+will+also+be+patrolling+for+suspicious+drivers+who+might+be+driving+impaired.

Law enforcement officers conduct “saturation patrols” at sobriety checkpoints located across the city on July Fourth. The entire DUI prevention squad will also be patrolling for suspicious drivers who might be driving impaired.

Drinking and driving arrests increase exponentially around Independence Day. Last year, during the holiday weekend, 534 people were arrested.

In 2014, according to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 29,250 total DUI arrests in the state of Arizona. This means that a single weekend in July produced 1.8 percent of all DUI arrests during the year.

Journalism freshman Alexander Peet said, “The rate of DUIs would certainly escalate over Independence Day as holiday weekends are notorious for accidents caused by drunk driving.”

Adding on to this sobering opinion, the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration reported that 40 percent of the traffic fatalities over the past five years during the Independence holiday have occurred due to drunk driving.

Even though DUI rates were still high in 2014, they are down 2,655 arrests from 2013 and 2,924 from 2012.

This decline is mostly due to the tireless work of Arizona police who make a concerted effort to stem DUIs and prevent impaired driving accidents, especially on holidays like July Fourth.

“We have put in more traffic stops, more officers, and increased messaging, and we’re now seeing a decrease in the number of DUIs,” said AGOHS director Alberto Gutier.

Gutier believes prevention programs and awareness campaigns have had an immense effect in causing the number of year-round DUIs to drop. Gutier is now hoping this effort can translate into less drunk drivers on July Fourth.

For the upcoming holiday weekend, the AGOHS is continuing the slogan, “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” on freeway message boards across the state in order to raise awareness, which Gutier calls the key to preventing DUIs and drunk driving.

Among the various sobriety checkpoints stationed throughout the city, Deputy Tom Peine said the Pima County Sheriff’s Office will have its own sobriety checkpoint, and will be conducting “saturation patrols.”

“These saturation patrols mean that extra officers will be out in specific locations and strategic points to catch people driving under the influence,” he added.

In addition to these saturation patrols, the entire DUI prevention squad will be out looking for suspicious drivers who might be driving under the influence.

According to Officer Joe Bermudez, crime prevention specialist for the University of Arizona Police Department, the UA campus will have a similar set up on July Fourth.

Officer Bermudez added that, thanks to a grant from AGOHS, “[UAPD] will have additional officers within our jurisdiction to patrol the streets, and our officers will look specifically for drivers who might be under the influence.”

If drivers are suspected of being impaired, officers will conduct a field sobriety test to determine if their blood-alcohol content is at or above the legal limit of 0.08.

Gutier said drinking and driving can have extensive consequences, especially for students at the UA and other universities.

“A DUI can cost students their scholarships, their career,” Gutier said. “It can destroy the rest of their life, and they’ll always have that hanging over their head.”

When enjoying July Fourth weekend and celebrating American independence, remember to commemorate the birth of the nation responsibly.

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