PAYETTE COUNTY

Idaho State Police reported on July 10 that they made 56 arrests over the Independence Day weekend for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. With novel coronavirus COVID-19 having changed the landscape of Independence Day celebrations this year, the newspaper reached out to law enforcement agencies across Payette County to understand how things are shaping up in terms of DUI offenses across the county.

Following are samples of their responses received by the newspaper.

In Payette, Police Chief John Plaza reported in an email on July 15 that arrests for DUI are below average for 2020, year-to-date as of press time.

In 2019, Payette saw 50 arrests. So far in 2020, there have been 13.

Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff said while numbers are holding steady, the types of DUI offenses have shifted.

“I’m not necessarily seeing an uptick in the offense itself, it’s the type of DUI,” said Huff. “We are experiencing more drug related DUI cases in comparison to the alcohol related DUIs.”

Huff said the city of Fruitland partners with the Idaho Transportation Department in working to reduce fatality crashes, including use of emphasis patrols throughout the year, such as seat belt, aggressive driving and DUI checkpoints.

“ITD typically sends out media releases during these events to educate and warn Idaho motorists,” said Huff.

Payette County Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Creech reported that, year-to-date, the county has responded to 31 DUI calls, which have led to 15 arrests, 13 for alcohol and two for drugs. The Sheriff’s Office also provides police services for the City of New Plymouth.

Creech said the Sheriff’s office reaches out to the community through various means, including social media, to urge drivers to stay sober.

“There is Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, as well as counselors in the area to help anyone that is addicted to alcohol or drugs,” said Creech. “We use Facebook and the local media to share information out to our community about DUI’s and other local concerns.

Think before you drink

Plaza expressed hope that those going out for a drink will think ahead about how to get home afterwards.

“I would hope people would use friends, or the ride services some bars provide in getting home if they are intoxicated,” said Plaza. “The DUI can and will impact your job and finances and it can easily be avoided by calling for a ride or having one arranged beforehand if you plan on going out and drinking. The other impact on your life is getting into a crash and injuring or killing someone and having to deal with that for the rest of your life. Definitely not worth risking either outcome.”

Huff echoed Plaza’s sentiment, while adding that some medicines can be an issue for motorists.

“Be aware that some prescription medications when mixed with alcohol can exaggerate intoxication,” Huff noted. “Also, marijuana is not legal to possess in Idaho and if ingested can impair one’s ability to drive. Be smart and be safe.”

Creech noted that the Sheriff’s Office remains on alert throughout summer.

“We are halfway through the deadliest days of summer. Memorial Day is the beginning of this time period, and Labor Day is the end. The days between these two holidays mark the time that we see the most vehicle collisions on our roadways. Motorists need to be alert during the summer so that they can avoid being involved in a vehicle collision. The Payette County Sheriff’s Office recommends using a designated driver to help keep our roads safe.”

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