DUI arrests way up for N. Providence in 2019

DUI arrests way up for N. Providence in 2019

Chief: Enforcement is saving lives

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Through three-quarters of the 2019 calendar year, local police have arrested 50 percent more drunk drivers than in 2018, according to data provided to The North Providence Breeze.

The majority of DUI arrests are being made on the main thoroughfares in town such as Mineral Spring Avenue, Douglas Avenue, Smith Street and Charles Street, said Chief David Tikoian.

“Sadly, some have even occurred in parking lots due to officers responding to a call of a motor vehicle operator passed out behind the wheel of a running automobile,” he said.

There were 73 total DUI arrests in 2018, and the town was already at 63 as of Sept. 30, “impressive” numbers putting the town on pace to significantly exceed last year’s figure by Dec. 31, said Tikoian. Through the same nine months of 2018, Tikoian’s first full year as chief, there were 42 arrests over the same nine-month period. The total for 2017 was 31 arrests from January through September, and for 2016 it was 25 arrests for the same period.

Total arrests in 2016 were 35, while 2017 ended with 41 arrests for 12 months.

DUI arrests are being made based on a combination of officer observations while on patrol, responding to accidents as well as 911 calls made to police headquarters regarding a suspected impaired motor vehicle operator, said Tikoian. Many of these DUI prosecutions never make it to trial and result in a plea deal due to the evidence gathered during the investigation as well as officer observations made official in offense and arrest reports.

Though a motorist’s blood alcohol content of .08 is the limit to legally operate a car, all too often police officers are removing impaired operators from roadways with a BAC more than twice that legal limit, said Tikoian.

Back in June, the North Providence Police Department received an additional $2,000 in grant funding on top of the $4,000 the department routinely receives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation Office of Highway Safety. That extra funding came due to the results of an enhanced DUI enforcement effort, and spending it has resulted in a noteworthy increase in DUI arrests, said Tikoian.

Since assuming command of the department in the fall of 2017, Tikoian said he has maintained a focus on DUI enforcement as a target area of priority.

“Officers are signing up for these overtime enforcement details and are making a difference by removing impaired operators from our roadways,” said the chief.

“We need to look no further than Jan. 24, 2019, only nine months ago, when one of our own, Officer Christian Ariza, became a victim of a head-on collision involving an impaired operator,” he added.

Though various parties, including police, RIDOT, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others, work hard at educating motorists about the inherent dangers of driving under the influence, people continue to get behind the wheel after drinking too much, said Tikoian.

“I am proud of the way our officers have embraced this lifesaving enforcement effort and the vigilance with which they patrol to detect and remove impaired operators from our roads,” he said. “They are making a difference and undoubtedly saving lives in our community. The message to those who get behind the wheel and drive impaired is, ‘our officers are watching and you will get arrested if you are suspected of DUI.’”

By the numbers

Total DUI arrests from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 of each year:

• 2016 - 25

• 2017 - 31

• 2018 - 42

• 2019 - 63

DUI arrests per year:

• 2016 - 35 arrests

• 2017 - 41 arrests

• 2018 - 73 arrests