MADD honors Marysville police officer for DUI arrests
He's good at spotting drunken drivers.
And in Marysville, according to Police Officer Adam Barber, it's not that hard.
Barber, 31, was honored last month by California Mothers Against Drunk Driving for nabbing 109 intoxicated drivers in 2011 — the second-highest number of DUI arrests in the region.
Department-wide, 218 DUI arrests were made last year in the city.
"That's a lot for such a small town," Barber said. "It's depressing. Very depressing."
The former Air Force police officer said he is on the lookout, even during weekday work hours, for drivers showing signs of impairment. And he sees plenty.
"Alcohol's always been a huge problem here, from what I've seen," said Barber, who grew up in Olivehurst.
One woman he pulled over on a recent afternoon was dressed for work and on her way to pull a shift at a Roseville convenience store. She was found to have more than twice the legal limit — .08 blood alcohol content — in her system. His attention to drunken drivers, he said, is no accident — and that's the idea.
"He takes drunk drivers off the street, and that saves lives," said Sgt. Chris Sachs, MPD spokesman. "The significance of it is tremendous."
"He's doing the community an incredible service," said Chief Wally Fullerton.
"I'm very passionate about this," Barber said of his DUI focus. "There's absolutely no reason somebody should be drunk on the road. It's so easy to find a ride, or call a cab. There's just no excuse."
MADD's Century Award goes to law enforcement officers that make 100 or more DUI arrests in a single year.
The region's top 2011 DUI cop — a Chico police officer — made 125 arrests.
With 86,000 residents, Chico dwarfs Marysville, Fullerton noted at a recent City Council meeting where Barber was recognized.
Barber said that noticing impaired drivers on the streets of Marysville is simply a matter of a little training and a real focus on the problem.
A breathalyzer test has shown some of Barber's arrests to have as high as .34 BAC, he said.
"Most people would be comatose at that stage, and here they are behind the wheel driving," he said. "I would be at the hospital having my stomach pumped if I drank that much."
A high tolerance for alcohol is a sign of long-term abuse.
And living in a place where there are lots of heavy drinkers, Barber said, can give people the false impression that their own heavy drinking habits are normal.
"If you're drinking every day," he said, "you've gotta kind of look at yourself."