Arizona officer adds to DUI arrests

85 over holidays give Mesa cop nearly 3,000 in career

Jan 5, 2000 - An Arizona police officer who made 85 DUI arrests during the holiday season added a few more strange ones to his list.


"The more of them you do, the easier they are, the more you recognize the signs and symptoms," said officer Tim Gaffney, who has made nearly 3,000 drunken-driving arrests in his career with the Mesa police force.

Among the drivers he arrested this season: one was passed out at a traffic light; one was arrested twice in an hour; and another had pulled over to throw up. He arrested at least five people who were sipping beer at traffic lights.

None had as much to drink as the driver Gaffney once arrested after the driver plowed through construction barricades. Police found his blood-alcohol level a 0.457 - more than 4 1/2 times the level of intoxication set by state law. Doctors estimated he drank 80 beers.

Statewide, police made 2,754 DUI arrests over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, the most in five years. Several intoxicated drivers pulled into task force command centers, asking where they could find a bar. A man who had been drinking at a Christmas party called his wife while being pulled over to tell her to pick up his car. When she got there, officers arrested her for DUI as well.

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