Mesa DUI checkpoint nets 29 arrests on Memorial Day

Posted at 8:53 PM, May 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 15:45:42-04

The Mesa Police Department hosted their annual Memorial Day DUI checkpoint near the Salt River, leading to 29 DUI arrests for the holiday, and a strong message from law enforcement that drunk driving will not be tolerated. 

Cars were backed up for at least a mile near Thomas and Power roads, as police talked to drivers. 

They either handed them a brochure, or if the driver showed signs of impairment, he or she would have to take a field sobriety test. 

According to Mesa police, just over 2,000 vehicles went through the checkpoint. Mesa police were responsible for 17 of those arrests, nine of them were DUI-drug related. The average BAC was .137.

"It was fine," said driver Virginia Felder, who was one of many to take the test. "They're just doing their jobs."

Felder said, "I blew a zero, zero. So I'm good."

Drivers take the eye test, do the heel-to-toe walk and have to raise one leg. Some, who didn't pass the test, wound up in handcuffs and arrested. 

"Unfortunately, it no longer surprises me," said Sgt. Joe Meacham with Mesa Police.

Mesa police are joined by several other Valley agencies, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Tempe Police, and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, for the checkpoint they've been setting up for the last 20 years. 

And officers say they hear all the excuses. 

"They'll try to tell us they only had two drinks, or they will tell us their drinks were three or four hours ago," Meacham said. "They try to downplay what's happening, hoping we let them go."

Alejandro Yescas was coming back from a long day of floating the river with friends when he was pulled over. 

"I really appreciated that they are looking out for people," Yescas said. And Yescas admits to drinking hours before the checkpoint. 

"Couple hours, way, way back," Yescas said. "And with timing here, totally sober. And as you can see, passed the test."

Law enforcement officials say it's not about the number of arrests, it's about cutting down on people making bad decisions. 

Mesa police say this is one of the biggest turnouts from law enforcement for the annual DUI checkpoint. They had 60 officers and several volunteers.