2005 holiday is costly for DWI drivers
Summer unofficially arrived over the Memorial Day weekend with a slew of arrests along the Spring River, a popular tourist destination in Fulton County, according to law enforcement officials.
"We were real busy this weekend," said Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger "Summer is here and it's going to be busy from here on out."
Dillinger said citations issued by law officers were slightly above average for a Memorial Day weekend.
Forty-one DWI tickets, 10 minor in possession of alcohol tickets, 25 citations for possession of a controlled substance and numerous other citations were issued by area law enforcement officers.
Fulton County will receive approximately $41,000 for the DWI tickets alone, Dillinger said.
The money generated by the tickets will go into the county general fund, not the sheriff's office, he said.
Most of the citations were issued to persons on or near the Spring River. "That river can be a big problem over the holiday weekend," Dillinger said.
He said potential suspects were forced to stand in long lines both Friday and Saturday nights waiting for breathalyzer tests and paper work.
A Pocahontas man who was arrested on suspicion of DWI May 28 got tired of standing in line and made an escape attempt.
Roger McQuay, 23, slipped out of line, ran down the main hallway at the sheriff's office and jumped out a kitchen window, according to Fulton County Sheriff's Department officials.
Dillinger said McQuay was apprehended a short time later at the White Oak Convenience Store by the Salem Police Department.
McQuay has been charged with DWI and fleeing, both misdemeanors.
"It takes a long time to process these people out, especially when you have so many of them in here at once," Dillinger said.
To cope with the problem, the sheriff's office is planning to erect a covered fenced-in area in the yard behind the jail, Dillinger said.
Despite the high number of arrests on county roads, citations issued on area waterways dropped from previous years, said Sgt. Scott Watkins of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Watkins said his department issued a total of 31 citations for littering, possession of glass containers, fishing without a license and possession of a controlled substance.
He said they typically issue around 80 citations over the Memorial Day weekend."Aggressive law enforcement, education and better public awareness are the main reason our numbers were so much lower," Watkins said.
Deputy Kevin Burns of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department patrolled the Spring River in a boat with the Arkansas Game and Fish officers.
"I think having Kevin out there was a good idea," Watkins said. "Having a law enforcement presence out there actually in the water serves as a good deterrent."
New regulations that require trash on rivers to be bagged and ice chests to be secured contributed to the lower number of tickets as well, Watkins said.
"We put 1,000 bumper stickers in the canoes to let people know not to litter and it seemed to have an affect."
All seven Fulton County deputies and three reserves worked over the Memorial Day weekend along with six Arkansas State Police troopers and 10 Arkansas Game and Fish wildlife officers.
In addition, the Salem Police Department helped to book and test arrested persons.
Dillinger said the summer season has officially begun in Fulton County and locals and visitors need to follow the law when they're away from home enjoying the weather.
"We'll be out in force protecting the community," Dillinger said. "Everyone needs to be aware of that."
The number of citations issued in Izard County was not available at press time.