Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wyoming: More than half of arrests due to alcohol

Casper, WY: When the Wyoming Sheriffs and Chiefs Association surveyed jails in 2005, the results were astonishing: alcohol played a role in about 55 percent of arrests for all crimes, and people brought in for driving under the influence were more intoxicated than suspected.

But, reporting from detention centers was spotty enough to prompt a new round of data collection, with researchers hoping for a more solid picture of alcohol’s role.

The new findings presented to the Governor’s Substance Abuse and Violent Crime Advisory Board, showed that alcohol is a factor in 62 percent of all arrests. And, when alcohol is involved, people arrested for crimes ranging from domestic violence and underage drinking to assaults and warrants were far worse than legally intoxicated, with an average blood alcohol content of 0.159, nearly twice the legal limit of .08.

The new data was collected in every county during a six-month period in 2006 through survey forms completed by law enforcement officers in detention centers, said Ernie Johnson, a management consultant to the sheriffs and chiefs association and the study organizer.

“It really opened our eyes,” Johnson said, adding that the data clearly indicates alcohol is Wyoming’s top substance abuse issue. More.

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