Harshman: Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol

AJPD assigning officers to DUI saturation details in and around Apache Junction


The holiday season is upon us. The smell of pumpkin pie and fresh-baked bread warms the heart and comforts the soul.

 The joy that comes with the seasonal festivities is like nothing else we experience throughout the year. If you look closely you can already see the excitement on the faces of the children anticipating the arrival of Christmas. Office parties, Thanksgiving feasts, that 10 extra holiday pounds, Secret Santa gift exchanges, drained bank accounts, and New Year’s Eve bashes bring our families together and unite our community.

Unfortunately, for many families this holiday season, the love and laughter will be interrupted by tragedy and loss. In spite of the stiff penalties, all the public service announcements, and the made-for-TV movies, many people (including some of you reading this article) will still choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The statistics are startling; in 2018, 10,511 people in the U.S. died as a result of drunk-driving crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 29% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities are caused by drunk-driving. The good news is that the total percentage of DUI fatalities has decreased by 3.6% since 2017. The bad news is we have a long way to go.

Apache Junction Police Department is taking measures this holiday season to reduce DUI fatalities by an even greater margin.

AJPD is assigning officers to saturation details in and around the City of Apache Junction beginning Thanksgiving weekend and continuing throughout the month of December.

In addition, officers from the police department will be participating in a multi-agency DUI task force throughout the holiday season. If you decide to drive under the influence in the City of Apache Junction there is a strong possibility you will be arrested.

On the bright side, you can avoid being arrested for driving under the influence by following these simple suggestions:

  • Make a transportation plan before you head out for the evening. Alcohol affects your judgement and impairs your ability to make good decisions. In advance, designate a (sober) driver or use a ride share company like Uber or Lyft.
  • Moderation is your friend. Every party or gathering doesn’t have to turn into an excuse to get drunk.
  • Invest in a personal breathalyzer. They can be purchased online for less than $100.
  • Don’t overestimate your tolerance to alcohol. It does not take as much as you might think to put you over the legal limit.
  • If someone tells you that you shouldn’t drive, take their advice. That person is trying to help you.

If for some reason you choose to ignore these suggestions and you are convicted of DUI be prepared to pay through the nose.

The cost of a DUI is enormous. For your first DUI conviction expect to pay fines totaling up to $2,500. In addition to fines, you will likely be required to install and maintain an (ever so stylish) ignition interlock device at a cost of about $1,000. You also may be required to undergo alcohol screening tests and forced to attend sobriety classes which will cost $500.

On the bright side, the sobriety classes aren’t a requirement if you’re willing to spend 10 consecutive days in jail.

You should also expect to see a $3,000 per year increase in the cost of your vehicle insurance as you will be required to purchase SR-22 coverage.

The cost of a DUI will undoubtedly add to the level of financial stress in your life. If you can afford a vacation to help you cope with your newly acquired stress, you’ll have to run it by your probation officer before you leave the state; you will be on probation for 24 months.

You should also be aware that the penalties cited here are for an ordinary misdemeanor DUI with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08. The penalties and expenses go up if you are convicted of extreme DUI.

You should also be aware that you don’t actually have to have a BAC of 0.08 to be charged and convicted of DUI. An alcohol concentration in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 can still result in a DUI conviction if there is additional competent evidence presented which shows that you were impaired. In other words, it’s best if you don’t drive if you’re going to drink.

Of course all of these previously mentioned fines and penalties are supposed to serve as deterrents.

If the fear of being arrested and convicted of DUI won’t dissuade you then maybe this will. Drunk-driving destroys lives. Each year, for thousands of families across the U.S., the joy of the holiday season comes to a violent and devastating end as they’re notified that their loved one was killed by a drunk-driver. Please don’t become the source of someone else’s pain and grief this season.

Let’s all as a community commit ourselves to making this a safe and fun holiday season for everyone. Help keep our roads and our families safe. Don’t drink and drive.

Go to nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving

Cpl. Marshall Harshman
Community/media liaison officer
Apache Junction Police Department