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Mon, Feb. 17

Don't celebrate Labor Day by drinking and driving

Life as we know it can change as quickly as the blink of an eye. Looking back on negative, life-changing experiences, we sometimes find ourselves with the would have, could have and should have syndrome. Anyone that has personally been the innocent victim of a drunk driver is left asking, "Why? Why me?"

Per Arizona Revised Statutes, it is unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance, or vapor releasing substances if the person is "impaired to the slightest degree." In Arizona, if one's blood alcohol concentration level is .08 percent or above, they are deemed "impaired."

Labor Day Weekend is the last three-day weekend of the summer. Many will celebrate the occasion with backyard barbecues, family get-togethers or a night out on the town. While we encourage everyone to enjoy the long weekend, we urge all not to drink and drive.

Williams is such a small town there is really not a good reason to drink and drive. Most downtown eating establishments and bars are within walking distance of virtually any area in town. Also, there's Smitty's Taxi Service available to drive you home safely for a few dollars. Designate someone in your group as the driver for the evening and make sure that person doesn't drink.

Do you want a free ride to Flagstaff where you will receive free food and lodging along with a free, memorable booking photo? If you are caught driving under the influence, this is the vacation package you will receive. When your vacation ends - when you are released from jail - you will now have to tell your family, friends and boss that you have been arrested and are now facing charges for DUI. This is sure to strengthen family relationships and land you that promotion you were shooting for at work. Oh, and you're going to have someone give you a ride to work since you can't drive.

If you are arrested for DUI and found to be impaired, you must surrender your driver's license on the spot to the law enforcement officer. You will then be issued a 30-90 day suspension and restriction on your driving privilege. If you refuse to take a BAC test, the suspension will be for 12 months. This is just the beginning. You are now on your way to facing criminal proceedings.

The costs of a DUI conviction are huge. The financial impact can be devastating. You are left to pay fines, surcharges, attorney fees, participate in and pay for substance abuse screenings and treatment, lost time from work to accommodate court appearances, and the cost of car insurance will increase significantly. Imagine how many cab rides you could have paid for with the money you will spend on fines and attorneys' fees in a DUI case.

The stakes are higher for extreme DUI, repeat DUI, and aggravated DUI charges. If you drive drunk and kill someone, you can add a murder charge to your collection of misdeeds.

Please think before you drink and drive. A lot more than just you is at stake when you drink and drive. You could possibly hurt or kill an innocent person. As you look ahead to Labor Day Weekend, remember to play safe. And if you drink, please don't drive.

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