You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Most Washtenaw County police agencies see increase in drunken driving arrests in 2012

By Kyle Feldscher

Most of the Washtenaw County police agencies reported dramatic increases in drunken driving arrests in 2012 while others reported slight decreases, according to an MLive Media Group analysis.

After mostly continuous decreases in drunken driving arrests from 2006 until 2011 — something police attributed to decreased staffing and more reactive policing — Saline, Pittsfield Township, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office all increased their arrest numbers last year. The biggest increase came from the sheriff’s office, which went from 100 arrests in 2011 to 169 in 2012.

Spokesman Derrick Jackson said a more proactive approach to policing has helped increase the amount of arrests made by deputies.

“OWI enforcement is really about proactive patrols,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, you'll see someone driving down the street swerving, but it’s usually about staffing levels and having the time to look for it. In a couple places, we were able to get some staffing levels (increased) to allow us to put deputies out there to be proactive.” looked back at the arrest totals for 2012 as a part of MLive Media Group’s updated Disappearing DUI series, which originally published last September. In that series, reporters from across the state found wide disparities in the number of DUI arrests made by police agencies around Michigan.

Jackson added the sheriff’s office does many programs funded by grants that focus on drunken driving enforcement at select times of the year, such as Memorial Day, graduation season and Super Bowl weekend.


Photo illustration by MLive Media Group

He said these times of high enforcement send a message to the sheriff’s deputies.

“We’ve really tried to make that a focus of the office and get deputies out there and do investigation,” he said. “We're saying, 'Yep, this is a focus of ours and we really want to crack down on OWIs.' ”

In Washtenaw County, agencies such as the Pittsfield Township and Ann Arbor police departments saw their arrest numbers drop considerably from 2006 to 2011. However, both of those departments increased their drunken driving arrests by 31 in 2012.

In Ann Arbor, that increase meant 132 drunken driving arrests were made in 2012. Deputy Chief Jim Baird said the department didn’t do anything special to increase arrests last year, but having some more officers on the road helped.

“The more people who are out there, the more you’re going to run across those,” Baird said. “Most drunk drivers are contacted due to traffic offenses. The more officers, the more contacts they’re going to make, the more drunk drivers are going to be discovered.”

Matt Harshberger, director of the Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety, said there’s an annual ebb and flow with statistics, but township police have been doing more to target drunken drivers.

“We’ve been doing more of the OHSP (Office of Highway Safety Planning) details and trying to facilitate getting them done in Pittsfield at our busiest intersections,” Harshberger said, “such as Washtenaw Avenue and Carpenter Road, which is the busiest intersection in the county.”

Last year, Harshberger attributed some of the decrease in drunken driving arrests to officers not volunteering for drunken driving details. Pittsfield Township police participated in the details and forced officers to fill the spots that weren’t taken by volunteers. Harshberger said the department stopped forcing officers to do the details and took volunteers only, causing the personnel to decline.

However, as the details have moved into Pittsfield Township and as time has gone on, more and more officers are volunteering.

“That’s because we’re working them more in the township and the officers like working their own jurisdiction,” Harshberger said. “The officers are going to the neighborhoods and hearing about traffic issues and they take them seriously.”

U-M police arrested 61 drunken drivers in 2012, up from 45 the previous year; Saline arrested 50, up from 39; and EMU arrested 18, up from 13.

The decreases from county police agencies were mostly small. Milan made 16 arrests in 2012, down from 22 in 2011; Chelsea made 17 arrests, down from 18; Ypsilanti police made 34 in 2012, down from 45; and Northfield Township made 23, down from 39.

Even though six county police agencies reported increased drunken driving arrests, Washtenaw County police agencies are still not highly ranked when it comes to drunken driving arrests per officer.

According to the MLive analysis, the Saline Police Department has the most drunken driving arrests per officer in the county at 3.8. However, that leaves it at 115th out of 421 police agencies in the entire state of Michigan. The Saugatuk Douglas Police Department ranked first with 32.0. However, just one officer made all 32 of those arrests, statistics show.

Pittsfield Township police had 3.4 arrests per officer (137th in Michigan), Northfield Township had 2.3 (225th), Milan made 1.8 (283th), Chelsea had 1.5 (305th), Ypsilanti had 1.3 (329th), U-M had 1.2 (335th), Ann Arbor had 1.2 (340th) and EMU made 0.6 (391st).

Out of the 50 biggest police agencies in the state, U-M ranked 44th and Ann Arbor ranked 45th in arrests per officer. The sheriff’s office ranked 76th out of 83 sheriff’s offices in the state for arrests per deputy.

Baird pointed toward the comparison between East Lansing and Ann Arbor made by MLive in the past as a reason why he wasn’t concerned about these sort of rankings. In 2011, East Lansing police arrested 620 arrests, which was more than six times more than Ann Arbor police. In 2012, East Lansing police made 386 drunken driving arrests, a considerable decrease but still about three times the amount made in Ann Arbor.

Oftentimes, the priorities in some jurisdictions are vastly different than others, he said.

“They’re two totally different towns, the police department makeup is totally different but the only theme is that they host Big Ten schools,” he said.

View a PDF of the above graphic here.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

But for some reason marijuana is still illegal


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Yeah. doesn't make any sense, does it?!

Basic Bob

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Due to its use by undesirables, no doubt. I would rather be around a stoner than a drunk.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

As HermanP pointed out, Director Harshberger misspoke in his interview with me. In an email yesterday, he said Washtenaw and Carpenter is the busiest intersection in the county. I've changed that in the story.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 9:45 a.m.

What a non-news article. Changes in policing strategies results in more arrests. Unmentioned is the decreased legal BAC limit. This means that an arrest for DUI is merely caprice and not the result of danger to the public. Likely the policing strategy is merely for the purpose of tax raising on the back of citizens. Wouldn't it have been so much more useful for the article to have provided the statistics for DUI accidents so that the reader could discover if there was any connection to this idiotic armed tax raising and public danger?


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

For a web site that seem a lot of people who think their intelligence is above normal, they make a lot of stupid statements while refusing to back them up what so ever.And when some one asks them to back them up their under ware gets knotted up

Basic Bob

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

It's the Dunning-Kruger effect.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

Why are people bashing the police, most of the departments are near the bottom of the rankings, sheriff's department 76th out of 83 agencies. Other agencies in the bottom half except for Pittsfield and Saline. We complain when they don't arrest drunk drivers, we complain when they do. We complain when they don't make an arrest we complain when they arrest someone for something we disagree with. Kyle please post more statistics to give the readers a better understanding of what our officers are faced with; drugs, domestic violence, property crime, weapons offenses, frauds etc.... I guess for those that want to pick and chose what the officers spend their time on, you should have became a police officer so that you could work you way up to Sheriff or Police Chief and order the officers to only make the arrests that you see fit. Oh thats right, much easier to monday morning quarterback, rather than put yourselves in harms way.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

We humans need air, water and food to survive: where is it written that we "need" booze? Nowhere. Alcohol shouldn't be forbidden (and history shows it can't be). But when we go bowling we go to a bowling establishment and when we go golfing we go to a golf course (etc.). Complaining about getting caught with a measurable alcohol level while out driving on public roads is the same as complaining about getting caught bowling on the street. There's a time and place for everything, so goes the saying. If you drink - don't drive. What's so hard to understand about that?


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

Trublue...the people who gave you a thumbs down probably have been busted with a DUI or two and just do not believe in personal responsibility. Iv'e gotten two ( years ago ) and guess who's fault it was ? . Mine


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Or you can do like the Irish - drink AND bowl in the street.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

I am going to agree with you there. Plus longer and tough jail times for those who do drink and drive. I am tired of hearing innocent children becoming innocent victims.

An Arborigine

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

I feel so safe knowing law enforcement is concentrating their efforts on this money-maker while attacks on women, larceny, etc. increase astronomically.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

Amen!! Maybe when people can go downtown again without fearing for their lives we can focus on this more. Ann arbor is the new detroit.... god bless


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.

Yea right.I suppose you would rather have a drunk smash into a care killing someone.Seeing that you seem to be some sort of law enforcement expert could you please let all of us nobody's how exactly how law enforcement can prevent attacks on women, larcenies etc...? PLEASE, PLEASE clue me in.I will await for you all knowing wisdom


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Remind me to never visit Saugatuk! Holy smokes.........:) One COP made ALL of the arrests. That must be some kind of record. The Saugatuk Douglas Police Department ranked first with 32.0. However, just one officer made all 32 of those arrests, statistics show.

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

Deputy Barney Fife


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

That would be Officer Carrie Nation.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

I love Saugatuk. Yes, those police are on the ball? Why? To make money and to keep the quaint little town from becoming a nuisance to those who would otherwise destroy it. Great job Sautatuk.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

The constant lowering the BAC. count to obscenely low levels so that people cannot even safely have one glass of wine with dinner probably the main reason Law Enforcement's "cash cow" of DUI arrests is so fat.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

they wanna make it.05!


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Goofus....If you drink as much as I do .08 is nothing,I wouldn't even feel it.But for others .08 is enough to cause impairment


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Kyle, Interesting article, anyway we could get statistics on all arrests for each agency. I think it would be eye opening to see how many arrests each department makes. I 'm all for drunk driver's getting arrested but I'm sure our officers are busy with other things. Perhaps a chart with arrests by agency, maybe broken down into catergories for misdemeanors, felonies, warrants etc... Also a couple years ago ran an article on each agencies closure rate on cases. Any chance we could see those stats again. These are our departments, its always good to see how effectively the departments are being run.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

We usually do this kind of thing near the end of the calendar year or at the beginning of a new year to check on the previous year, but I'll see what I can find out, sheepyd.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2 p.m.

More staffing more arrests, what an observation, if you had more police then you would have more arrests,less police officers less arrests. So if we have less crime in the area is it because we have more or less police officers? Different towns have different people, who comes up with these scenarios? I like their logic thinking.

Basic Bob

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

I can't tell you how many suspected drunk drivers I've seen pulled over on Michigan Avenue after NASCAR races. Last year I think I saw six police cars between Saline and US-23. The Saline police used to sit in the cemetery and observe cars stopped at the light, but I haven't seen that the last few years.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

The reason is they opened all lights to stay green around the cemetery. It happened a few years ago to keep traffic moving. My wife and I used to love to sit and watch the police sit at the cemetery and pull over cars on a constant basis.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Somebody give Harshberger a map. Hewitt and Carpenter don't intersect and Hewitt rd is in Ypsilanti Township. He may also need a backbone. Since when do you have to ask police officers to volunteer to go out and arrest drunk driving regardless of the location? Beside, they are getting paid overtime by the Feds to do it. Who is running this place?


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

@tom, texting while driving is a civil infraction (same as a speeding or red light ticket) and thus NOT an arrestable offense in Michigan. Fines are like 100 for first offense and 200 for subsequent offenses if I remember correct.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Patty...Yes I do, %100.My point was that trying to blame the lax laws on communication companies is ridiculous


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

@tdw. You really don't believe that texting and driving is dangerous? Obviously you've never been behind a texting driver. Here's one "shred" of evidence: Car and Driver's study showed that texting drivers were WORSE than drunk drivers. And here's a more academic study from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis: Six times more dangerous. So maybe now you'll stop texting while you're driving?

Homeland Conspiracy

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:10 a.m.

University of Utah psychologists have published a study showing that motorists who talk on handheld or hands-free cellular phones are as impaired as drunken drivers. "We found that people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit" of 0.08 percent, which is the minimum level that defines illegal drunken driving in most U.S. states, says study co-author Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology. "If legislators really want to address driver distraction, then they should consider outlawing cell phone use while driving."


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

And Maryland - starting in July.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

Ignatz...could you please, PRETTY PLEASE offer one shred of evidence to back up your comment ?

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

They didn't stop NY


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

There are studies that equate texting/talking while driving with driving under the influence. So, the offense should be arrestable. However, that won't happen anytime too soon thanks to the mobile communications lobby.

Tom Todd

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

How about cracking down on texting and arrest some drivers for it.