By Megan Hansen
The Marin Independent Journal
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — San Rafael police Officer Kevin MacDougald is passionate about cracking down on people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and made his 100th DUI arrest of the year this week.
MacDougald, 58, has been with the police department for 35 years and graduated from Terra Linda High School in 1973. Each year he's led the department in DUI arrests, tallying one-third of all the 300 DUI arrests made so far this year.
"I do it because I like it," MacDougald said. "It's something I started early in my career when we had a lot of DUI car crashes."
He nabbed his 100th offender at 2:30 a.m. Thursday. Mason Barros, 24, of Lake Elsinore, was driving down Third Street when he ran a red light. He then traveled the wrong way down C Street and eventually stopped on the 600 block of B Street.
Barros was booked into the Marin County Jail for having a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.
Cpl. Justin Graham said MacDougald's dedication to saving lives and preventing injuries is appreciated by the department.
"He's definitely inspired other officers to step up enforcement," Graham said. "He trains new officers coming into the department."
MacDougald has received awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a nonprofit focused on ending drunk driving, for the last six years honoring his efforts. He's also a standardized field sobriety testing instructor, teaching officers throughout the county how to spot impaired drivers.
He said about four out of 10 of the people he arrests have previous DUIs, and that he's arrested the same two people twice this year for DUIs. It typically takes him about two-and-a-half hours to do all the work associated with each arrest, from stopping the driver to completing report paperwork.
But he said the time-consuming work and occasional frustration are worth it.
MacDougald said he doesn't pass judgment on those he stops and simply runs through the same protocol each time, conducting various field sobriety tests after stopping someone for a vehicle code violation.
"I don't assign good or bad to them. I just deal with what I have in front of me," he said.
There is one thing that gets under his skin, though.
"I don't understand why a completely sober passenger would let a drunk person drive," he said, adding that he's seen this many times.
Both Graham and MacDougald said they're beginning to see a trend in San Rafael of increased DUI driving incidents on the day before Thanksgiving, known as "Blackout Wednesday." More people attend holiday parties and patronize bars, some drinking so much they drink to the point of passing out — hence the day's nickname.
MacDougald said he made another DUI arrest on Thanksgiving evening.
"I had one last night I got behind on the freeway going northbound who slowed down to five to seven miles per hour as cars were driving by at 60 miles per hour. It was scary," he said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 The Marin Independent Journal