Over the holidays, Arizona officials arrested thousands of drivers on suspicion of driving under the influence.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety on Sunday released statistics showing that 3,534 DUI arrests were made from Nov. 25 through Jan. 1. That’s down about 1,000 from the same period of 2009.
Sixty-seven agencies, including Mesa police, Phoenix police, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Public Safety, saturated streets throughout the state to help encourage people to use designated drivers.
Hundreds of officers conducted sobriety tests on different days, said Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
Of those arrested, nearly 25 percent were cited for extreme DUI. Such a citation is given to people with blood alcohol content greater than 0.15 percent.
About 10 percent of drivers were cited for aggravated DUI and nearly 11 percent were repeat offenders.
The 6,511 officers and deputies who participated also recorded the use of 1,283 sober designated drivers. Using a designated driver is the motto officials tout during the round-ups.
“That (number) is very encouraging, and we have been pushing that the past two years,” Gutier said. “We think that we have been successful.”
Last year, officials recorded a total of 4,693 DUI arrests.
Gutier said the difference was due to fewer traffic stops, not necessarily because fewer people were drinking and driving over the holidays.
Still, officials said the patrols make a difference.
“You put officers on the road and people speed less. They take less risks,” said Gutier.