Law enforcement agencies in Arizona arrested about 16 percent more people on suspicion of DUI this Labor Day weekend than last year.
Authorities did that using less officers and making fewer traffic stops than Labor Day weekend 2013. Suspected drug DUI arrests increased about 21 percent from last year.
Police arrested 582 people on suspicion of DUI from Aug. 28-Sept. 1, according to statistics compiled by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
That's 79 more than last year, or about a 16 percent increase. "Even though we went down in total fatalities in Arizona from 2012-2013, still we see DUI arrests are up," said Alberto Gutier, office director.
"The problem is some people think, 'It's not going to happen to me.' " Of those arrested, the average blood alcohol content was .145, the same as 2013, numbers show.
DUIs in which authorities suspected drug use increased about 21 percent from last year to 103. "We have medical marijuana and a lot of people think it's OK (to drive because) they have a card," Gutier said. "Well, not if you're impaired."
The task forces caught more people driving under the influence using about 16 percent fewer officers and deputies than in 2013, when roughly 2,000 participated, numbers show.
They also made 22 percent fewer stops than last year, when law enforcement had contact with roughly 13,500 drivers on Arizona roads, numbers show.
Gutier attributed the drops to agencies having fewer personnel and the number of resources used for back-to-back weekends of Safe and Sober campaigns at Arizona State University.
"That took a lot of officers," he said. "Not every agency had enough dollars to be able to cover everything that we asked them to."
But the categories with the biggest increases from 2013 were liquor citations issued to people under 21 and total designated drivers.
The number of under-21 citations increased 600 percent from last year to 218, statistics show.
Gutier said the spike was due to increased awareness about underage drinking because of Safe and Sober.
Officers also encountered a third more designated drivers compared to last year, numbers show. The number of designated drivers increased 129 to 483.
"When I see those numbers rise, it makes my day," Gutier said.
OK, well, some people are getting it. The number of DDs increased by 36percent. That is big.
However, the number of DUIs increased by 16 percent. That is bad.
Scary is the fact that the number of drivers under age 21 increased 600 percent.
The fastest growing segment of new drivers are the most inexperienced sect of drivers, and are showing their inexperience and stupidity by ingesting drugs or alcohol and getting behind the wheel. The results can only be deadly.
Let’s continue to talk to our our sons and daughters on the dangers of driving while impaired, and let’s support our schools and State in educating all members of society on these dangers.