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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Nogales police get ‘tricked-out’ DUI van

    The Nogales Police Department is fighting drunk driving and underage drinking at the Mexican border with a $101,000 van.

    The NPD, with the aid of a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, has received a DUI van fully equipped with a holding cell, a breathalizer, phones and other equipment that allow officers to combat drunken driving and underage drinking, according to NPD.

    It is the first vehicle of its kind NPD employs.

    “”It’s a pretty tricked-out little van,”” said NPD Chief John E. Kissinger.

    The van’s purpose is not only to catch people who have committed alcohol-related crimes, but to deter anyone from breaking the law in Nogales, especially at the border, Kissinger said.

    Holidays and spring break bring large numbers of tourists and students to Nogales, and the DUI van allows the police to deal with a lot of people without taking officers off of the street, Kissinger said.

    Nogales has long been a popular party destination for UA students because its drinking age is 18; however, when they return to Arizona, the students are subject to the state’s laws, said University of Arizona Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia.

    “”All that has to be shown is that they consumed alcohol,”” Mejia said.

    Adam Daley, a journalism sophomore, visited Nogales recently and did not experience any run-ins with police, although he knows several other students who have been arrested after crossing the border into the U.S.

    “”I might go do it again, but I would stay the night,”” Daley said.

    Daley said he believes the presence of NPD and the van itself will be enough to stop him from leaving Mexico while intoxicated.

    Underage drinking and driving under the influence charges make up the majority of violations that the UAPD encounters, with 299 liquor-related cases in 2005, Mejia said.

    But there were likely more individual arrests made in each case, making the number of arrests more than 300.

    While UAPD deals with a high volume of alcohol-related violations, they do not have a vehicle that compares to the DUI van.

    Their jurisdiction never takes them far enough from the police station to justify such a vehicle, Mejia said.

    In Arizona, anyone caught drinking underage by the police could face jail time or enter a diversion program.

    Drunken drivers face additional consequences, including jail time, fines, loss of their driver’s license or a mandatory in-car breathalyzer that only allows the driver to start their car after blowing into the device with zero blood alcohol content.

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