Two honored for their dedication to ending DUI in Pinal County
PINAL COUNTY – On Thursday night, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Motor Deputy Charles “Chuck” Gaston and Pinal County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney Michael Larsen were honored and received awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) of Southern Arizona for their relentless dedication to cracking down on drunk and impaired driving.
Annually, MADD of Southern Arizona hosts an awards dinner to recognize law enforcement for their efforts to curb drunk and impaired driving. This year, both a member of the Pinal County Attorney’s Office and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office were recognized, individually, for their shared devotion to removing drunk and impaired drivers from Pinal roadways.
With members of law enforcement from Yuma and Tucson, Coolidge and Gila River, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety and U.S. Attorney’s Office present, both of Pinal’s finest stood among other heroes serving to protect and administer justice for Pinal families.
In 2012, 34% of all traffic fatalities in Arizona were alcohol-related and nationwide, an additional 18% of motor vehicle deaths are attributed to drugs other than alcohol, i.e. marijuana and cocaine.
Arizona possesses 11 statutes governing the illegality of driving under the influence, which range from Underage Drinking and Driving and Driving Under the Influence/Impaired to the Slightest Degree to Super Extreme DUI and Driving under the influence with a person under 15 in the vehicle.
Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles congratulated both men and said, “Every minute someone is injured in an alcohol-related crash and in Pinal County, we have a significant problem with drunk and impaired drivers. My office already charged over 600 individuals with DUI-related charges since January and with law enforcement like Dep. Gaston working for Sheriff Paul and DCA Larsen working me, I assure you, you do not want to take the risk of drinking and driving in Pinal County.”
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said, “Deputy Gaston and Deputy County Attorney Larsen received individual MADD awards last night recognizing their outstanding work. A fatal vehicle accident occurs in the United States every 10 seconds. After becoming Sheriff, we created a fulltime Traffic Enforcement Unit to address this problem in Pinal County. Since that time, fatal collisions involving speed, reckless driving and impaired driving have dropped dramatically. Drug impaired driving arrests have also increased by over 875%. We are doing our part through enforcement and education to help make the roadways safer and now it’s the public’s turn - How much is too much? If you have to ask, you already have your answer. If you’re going to drink, be responsible and plan ahead for a safe, sober ride home”.