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Law enforcement agencies kick off holiday DUI crackdown

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PHOENIX – Six new mobile processing centers for those suspected of driving under the influence will make Arizona roads safer this holiday season, authorities said Tuesday at the multi-agency Holiday DUI Task Force kickoff.

The vehicles, unveiled at a news conference, will be used throughout the state as part of a larger effort by the Governor’s Office for Highway Safety deter drunken drivers.

“These are my pride and joy,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the office.

Gutier said stepped-up enforcement and more officers on the road have made a difference. Law enforcement agencies recorded 19,353 DUI arrests last year, 3,534 of them during the holiday season.

The mobile enforcement centers, which together cost more than $1 million, were purchased for police departments with federal money, Gutier said.

Phoenix, Tucson, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Scottsdale and the Department of Public Service received vehicles.

From these mobile processing centers officers can administer Breathalyzer and blood-alcohol tests and request search warrants, greatly reducing the time officers spend processing those suspected of driving under the influence, Gutier said.

Kelly Larkin, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Arizona, said the vehicles will make Arizona safer.

“They get (impaired drivers) right off the roads and they’re able to process them instead of going to the jail or hospital,” she said.

Travis Mathews, a traffic enforcement officer for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, said that the mobile processing centers cut the time from traffic stop to arrest roughly in half.

“These trucks mean we can get out and get the next person off the road faster,” he said.

David Manning, regional administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said Arizona’s efforts are important because the holidays are the most dangerous time on the road.

“DUI remains the deadliest epidemic on the roadway,” he said. “Arizona is a model for the rest of the nation.”