Wichita police see spike in DUI arrests (2011)

It wasn't a holiday weekend, and Wichita police conducted no special patrols.

But police still saw DUI arrests jump more than 50 percent this weekend — a troubling statistic with a major holiday looming this weekend.

"It is a huge concern," Lt. Doug Nolte said, calling the weekend total of 31 arrests "way too many drunk drivers."

"Our goal isn't to stop people from having a good time," he said. "What we want to do is help get people safely to wherever they need to go."

Seven of the arrests were of people who have a prior history of DUI, Nolte said.

It's not unusual to see 20 DUI arrests on any given weekend, said Lt. Joe Schroeder, head of the accident follow up unit. But to see such a significant jump when no special enforcements were being conducted is troubling.

There are a lot of outdoor activities this time of year, he said, and that increases the opportunities for drunk driving to occur.

"People become inebriated quicker when they're out in the heat without realizing it," Schroeder said.

The DUI cases included a 16-year-old who ran into a parked car. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Then there was the 24-year-old man who ran into the back of a car stopped at Second and Waco. It happened to be a detective working a case in an unmarked car. He was not seriously injured, Nolte said.

There were 98 traffic accidents reported this weekend, up from an average of 70.

DUI arrests were made all over Wichita, Nolte said, and couldn't be linked to any specific event.

Enhanced traffic enforcement is planned for the holiday weekend, Nolte said, though specifics will be up to each of the city's four police bureaus.

But the key to a safe holiday will be friends and family watching out for each other and making sure loved ones don't drive drunk, he said.

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