ERIC M. JUKELEVICS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UAPD officers, as part of the DUI taskforce, detained a man suspected of leaving the scene of a fight Friday night. He was later released and driven to UMC to receive medical attention. Fifty Southern Arizona law enforcement officers, including two from the University of Arizona Police Department, participated in the taskforce - which searched for and arrested drunken drivers - over the weekend.
By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Feb. 25, 2002
DPS officials say more people taking cabs or using designated drivers
Nearly six months after tougher DUI regulations took effect throughout Arizona, UAPD officers patrolling Friday night as part of the DUI taskforce made no arrests for drunken driving.
Over the weekend, 50 officers from law enforcement agencies across Southern Arizona participated in the taskforce, which was put in place because of the Tucson Open Golf Tournament and La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo.
But on Friday, the two UAPD officers in the taskforce made no arrests - only stopping people for routine traffic violations.
Cmdr. Brian Seastone, spokesman for UAPD, said yesterday that it is unknown whether UAPD made any arrests on Saturday.
Throughout the Tucson area, 53 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, a number down nearly 50 percent from the same weekend last year, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Ed Slechta.
Slechta said although the average blood alcohol content for Tucson area arrests was at .14 percent - a drop from last year's .16 to .18 percent, the level was still dangerously high.
"We'd still like to see it more around the .08 (percent) limit," Slechta said. "Some people just don't comprehend that .08 is the limit."
That legal limit was changed last summer when lawmakers lowered it from .1 percent to .08 percent in order to tighten restrictions on drunken drivers.
The DUI taskforce is deployed on holiday - and event-filled weekends to strictly enforce laws on driving under the influence of alcohol or any substance. The taskforce was deployed this weekend from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Slechta said although there were six alcohol-related collisions, no fatalities were reported.
He added that cab rides and designated drivers were the most popular rides home for students and others who had been drinking.
Officer Filbert Barrera, a UAPD officer participating in the taskforce, was called to assist on many investigations since he was certified to "gaze" in a suspect's eyes to help determine whether further investigation was necessary.
Barrera said a gaze is when an officer tests to see whether a driver's eye movements prove that the suspect is too drunk to drive.
Barrera said the main thing officers look for in a DUI investigation is whether the suspect can multi-task during the interview. He said driving a vehicle is multi-tasking - making many decisions at once.
"You're looking at traffic, controlling your speed and looking for other cars, a driver has to make good decisions," he said. "That's all a DUI is - a lot of poor decisions."
During an interview, Barrera also checks for cues that may be indications of their failure to multi-task by asking questions.
During one interview, Barrera grilled a suspect with questions on where he was, when he was there and how he got there.
"You just have to keep asking them questions," Barrera said. "See if they can stay with it."
Although Barrera, who called himself a magnet to drunken drivers, didn't arrest anyone on Friday, he said writing nine traffic tickets and making several stops made a difference.
"At least we made some contacts and some corrected some people on their driving," he said. "I'd say it was a successful night."