Maui police arrest 19 in campaign to push sober driving

Maui police arrested 19 people for impaired driving over the weekend, as the nationwide “Get Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign continues.

Seven of the 19 drivers arrested were at intoxication checkpoints. Twelve drivers were arrested in Central Maui, two in Lahaina, three in Kihei and two on Molokai.

The campaign began Thursday and continues through Sept. 1. As part of the campaign, police will continue to set up roadblocks at unannounced times and locations throughout Maui County.

“People need to be reminded that impaired driving is deadly and can have grave consequences,” said Lt. Ricky Uedoi, commander of the police Traffic Section.

Of the 15 traffic fatalities in Maui County this year, seven have been attributed to impaired driving, Uedoi said.

Two of four near-fatal crashes were alcohol related and police are still awaiting toxicology results for three other fatal crashes in which they believe alcohol is a factor, Uedoi said.

On Friday, the state Department of Transportation will begin airing a public service announcement “Medicated Driving May Cause DUI,” which warns of the dangers of drugged driving.

“Over 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes every year in the United States,” said Ford Fuchigami, interim director of the state DOT. “But drugged driving is also a huge problem, and it’s growing.”

While the number of drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes declined nationally over the past five years, the number of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs increased from 13 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2009.

It’s recommended that drivers taking prescription medication read and follow warning labels and patient educational pamphlets that accompany medication.

“The nationwide campaigns help to bring awareness to these issues; however, police have been out looking for impaired drivers every day they go out on the road,” Uedoi said.

Last year, Maui police arrested 1,025 people for impaired driving. So far this year, 543 people have been arrested for impaired driving. Three people under the age of 21 have also been arrested for driving while having a measurable amount of alcohol.