It’s the most red, white and blue holiday of them all. The Fourth of July celebrates not only our nation’s founding, but also the American dream, spirit and our cherished freedoms. Unfortunately, the annual holiday also means that Arizona law enforcement agencies will be out in force looking for drunk drivers.

According to a Phoenix TV station, last year’s Fourth of July crackdown resulted in more than 200 DUI arrests over the two-day holiday enforcement period. The report stated that 1,726 officers and deputies took part in the effort last year. There is no doubt that there will again be extra patrols and officers on metro area streets for next week’s celebration.

Last year’s enforcement efforts resulted in 11,395 traffic stops conducted the day before the holiday and on the holiday itself. Of that number, 289 stops resulted in DUI arrests. Sixty-two of them were for extreme DUI, which Arizona law defines as a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher.

Two years ago, there were more than 500 drunk driving arrests over the holiday enforcement period. The big difference in arrest numbers from 2017 to 2018 is easily explained: the Fourth fell on a Tuesday two years ago, which stretched the enforcement endeavors from the previous Thursday through the holiday.

In 2017, the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety tallied 16,079 traffic stops and a whopping 539 DUI arrests. More than a quarter of those arrests (27.5 percent) were for extreme DUI.

In 2016, there were 507 DUI arrests and in 2015 there were 486 people arrested on drunk driving charges across the state.

Officials expect hundreds more arrests this year, so please drive carefully and responsibly, and remember that everyone who faces a DUI charge can defend their freedom and driver’s license with the help of a qualified attorney.