FARMINGTON — Law enforcement agencies operating in San Juan County arrested 22 people on suspicion of drunken driving over the Labor Day weekend.
Deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office arrested eight suspected drunken drivers from Saturday through Monday. The Farmington Police Department arrested 12 people, and New Mexico State Police arrested two drivers in San Juan County.
Officers with the Bloomfield Police Department made no arrests for drunken driving during the holiday weekend. The Aztec Police Department did not provide data on drunken driving arrests.
Farmington police Sgt. David Karst said his department recently trained all of its patrol officers to recognize the signs of intoxication and on how to administer field sobriety exercises. Previously, only the department's DUI unit was trained to enforce laws prohibiting drunken driving.
"Over the weekend, we focused on a lot of heavy-saturation patrols," he said. "We focused patrols in areas where we had high numbers of DUI crashes and high areas of DUI arrests."
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office, in partnership with other local law enforcement agencies, conducted a DWI checkpoint during the holiday weekend and increased its number of DWI enforcement patrols throughout the county.
"The Sheriff's Office strongly believes in the importance of saving lives through proactive strategies and encourages citizens to take an active role in their community and report suspected drunken drivers by calling 911," a press release from the office stated.
San Juan County Sheriff's Office Lt. Cory Tanner said San Juan County dispatch received 26 calls reporting suspected drunken driving during the holiday weekend.
Farmington police Chief Steve Hebbe said last month that his department is prioritizing lowering the number of alcohol-related traffic crashes in the county. He is encouraging drivers to call 911 to report suspected drunken drivers and, if it is safe to do so, to follow drivers so that officers can be informed of their whereabouts.
Karst said his department is discouraging residents from calling the state's Drunk Busters hotline at #DWI, because it takes too long for state dispatchers to inform local police.
As a result, Karst said his department is beginning to receive more calls from concerned citizens.