Volume 105, Number 40 - October 2, 2008
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Drop in county DUIs
Sublette County may be on its way to bucking a statewide trend that has seen DUIs on the rise throughout the 2000s.
According to the Sublette County Attorney’s Office, the county has seen only 56 DUI charges through the end of July this year. If the current pace per month holds, that would put the county under 100 charges for all of 2008.
“I think many different things are working together [to possibly lower the numbers],” County Attorney Lucky McMahon said. “People are more leery about getting into their vehicles if they have been drinking.”
The county may have seen its peak sometime near 2005, Sheriff Wayne Bardin said.
“2005 was probably one of our highest years for number of arrests,” Bardin added.
Charges are generally at their highest in the spring, McMahon said, leaving the county hopeful that it will see a decrease in an area on the rise in much of the state — and an issue that has plagued this region for some time.
“I think we probably will see a decrease this year,” Bardin said.
A cause for some rise in the numbers previously could be attributed to a more fully staffed sheriff’s office. Traffic interdictions — generally the various moving violations — are up, leading to more charges in the last few years. With a greater police presence, drinkers may begin to show more caution about driving home.
“I’ve really been able to get positions filled that haven’t been filled in the past,” Bardin said. “[I think there’s been more caution], just because of the presence that’s out there now between the sheriff’s office and the highway patrol.”
Sublette County’s evolving court system may also be playing a part to keeping those drivers off of the streets.
“With every DUI charge, [Circuit Court] Judge [Curt] Haws requires [each offender] to get an alcohol evaluation,” McMahon said. “I’m thinking and hoping that this is making a difference.”
First-time offenders may also be weary of testing the limits due to the fact that a second offense will land you in jail, and by the fourth time a DUI charge is a felony.
“It really snowballs quickly,” McMahon said. “I think a lot of people look at that, and I hope they’re looking and thinking it’s just not worth the risk.”
In 2006 the county saw 109 charges and in 2007 it saw 125, so the jury is still out as to where the number is heading, and if any decrease would signify a downward trend.
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