Sent on 10/29/2012 5:23:04 PM
As the holiday season approaches, the Pima County Sheriff's Department wants to remind drivers of the dangers and consequences of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs. Since the first of September, deputies have conducted 146 DUI related investigations. Many of those investigations involved car crashes to include two fatal collisions that occurred in October alone. The first case involved two young drivers racing on Gates Pass Road. An alcohol impaired driver drove off the roadway, rolled his vehicle, and killed one of his passengers. The driver, William Pina, was arrested for the murder of his passenger and additional charges of aggravated assault, endangerment, DUI, and criminal damage. The second October fatality occurred at Pistol Hill and Colossal Cave Road when an impaired driver rolled her vehicle ejecting one of her teenage passengers who died at the scene. Joan Laidlaw was arrested for homicide, aggravated assault, DUI, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. In both of these crashes, the deceased passengers were not wearing seatbelts. The proper use of safety belts could have lessened or prevented these tragic deaths. The Sheriff's Department Traffic Unit investigates serious injury and fatal collisions. Motorists caught driving under the influence will be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted. People who drive impaired and injure or kill their passengers will face criminal charges. Recent cases resulting in convictions included an instance of a victim being struck and killed by his co-worker. Marc Dodge was crossing the street at Ajo and Country Club when he was struck and killed by Matthew Foster. Foster was driving intoxicated with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. A jury, after deliberating only a few short hours, convicted Foster for murder and DUI. Mr. Foster will be sentenced later this month. In another case, Travis Nereim was recently found guilty of Aggravated DUI and Child Abuse for crashing into a deputy’s vehicle with his children in the car and then leaving the scene. After a short pursuit, he was captured and investigators found he was intoxicated. His blood alcohol level was more than five times the legal limit. Deputies will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols searching for impaired drivers beginning Thanksgiving weekend and continuing through New Year's Day. This proactive approach, funded by grants from the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, will also include increased vigilance to seatbelt use. The Pima County Sheriff's Department will protect the citizens of Pima County while giving no breaks or leniency to impaired drivers. The Sheriff's Department asks motorists to be smart this holiday season by using designated drivers and buckling up. Nothing good can come of the decision to drive impaired.