University of Wyoming Police Department, Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Highway Patrol, and the Laramie Police Department are teaming together to form The Albany County Enforcement Squad (ACES.) Their goal: to keep drunken drivers off Laramie roads before home football games.
ACES will be running their third patrol Friday before the Nebraska vs. Wyoming game. LPD Operations Lieutenant Jonlee Anderle said DUI saturation patrols are new to Laramie but have existed and continue to exist in elsewhere in Wyoming. Anderle said ACES was funded by a $10,000 grant offered by the Highway Safety Office in Cheyenne.
LPD Patrol Officer James Pracheil, who patrolled Sept. 2 before the first Wyoming football game, said four DUI related arrests were made that night. Pracheil said he would like to see less DUI related arrests.
“For a town this size, the number of DUI arrests we make is amazing,” Pracheil said.
Anderle said LPD made more than 300 DUI related arrests last year. Anderle said he thinks that it is ridiculous, especially when there are so many other options then driving impaired. He said there are three taxi services in Laramie, Safe ride and, of course, finding a designated driver.
“A designated driver is not the one in the group who drank the least; it’s a sober driver who doesn’t drink at all,” Anderle said.
Anderle said 35 to 40 percent of fatal crashes in Wyoming are alcohol related. He also said, on an average Friday night, 1 out of 20 drivers are impaired, which means 5 percent of drivers are causing 35 percent of accidents. But impaired drivers are not limited to just drunken drivers.
Anderle said he has noticed several cases of people driving under the influence of drugs. Pracheil said, two years ago, five DUI arrests were made involving individuals huffing computer duster. Anderle said three of those arrests involved serious injury crashes.
Anderle also said he has noticed crashes as a result of people taking over-the-counter medications.
“They aren’t reading the warning labels,” he said.
Anderle said he wished ACES would make zero arrests during their Friday night patrol, but Pracheil said that is optimistic thinking.
“We’re not prohibitionists. We understand people want to have a good time, but we cannot accept when people put other people in danger,” Anderle said.
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