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Thursday, July 10, 2014

DUI arrests up sharply in Wichita so far this year

BY STAN FINGER
The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA — DUI arrests have jumped more than 25 percent in Wichita so far this year compared to 2010, a Wichita police official said today.

The increase grows from an increased emphasis by patrol officers to watch for impaired drivers and "not necessarily" because there are more drunk drivers on the streets and freeways, said Lt. Joe Schroeder of the accident follow up unit.

"It's increased awareness by officers to the current crime trend," Schroeder said.

The heightened emphasis occurred because 15 of the 29 traffic fatalities in 2010 were alcohol-related, he said. A state law mandating blood tests for drivers involved in serious crashes where driving errors occurred has also played a role in the increase, Schroeder said.

Even though DUI-related collisions fell 15 percent in 2010, DUI fatalities increased.

"Officers constantly review crime trends," Schroeder said. "That's something we have to do to target our resources."

DUI collisions fell from 508 to 431 in Wichita last year, but Schroeder said those statistics can be misleading.

"The number of accidents doesn't really tell you how bad the crashes are," Schroeder said.

Through late this week, police statistics show, 356 DUI arrests have been made so far this year in Wichita.

"Keep in mind that we still have this weekend and Monday to add to that total.," Schroeder said.

The current numbers compare to 280 DUI arrests through the first two months of last year and 291 through February of 2009.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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