Charles Barkley Ensnared by DUI Task Force in AZ

For the last 22 years, the East Valley DUI Task Force in and around Phoenix, AZ, has been setting up “… saturation patrols from a different East Valley location each night (warning: PDF). Officers will conduct traffic stops after observing indications of possible impairment or traffic violations. Drivers found to be impaired by alcohol or drugs will be arrested and transported to the command post for case processing.”

We apologize to Charles Barkley for not posting this news yesterday, as Barkley was pulled over by Gilbert police in Old Town Scottsdale (where all the toniest bars reside) on suspicion of DUI around 1:30 am this morning after blowing a stop sign.  However, we thought he already knew that since he worked there from 1992-1996. Barkley declined a breath test and was given a blood test by the East Valley DUI Task Force instead before taking a cab home.

Charles Barkley DUI

(Full photo essay at TMZ.com)

And our above-the-fold message to you: do the same tonight.  To quote the coordinator of the task force from earlier this month, “The fines only go up with repeat offenders.  It only costs $15 to take a cab from Old Town Scottsdale to Tempe. Which is cheaper?”  We know you didn’t gamble it all away, Charles, but there’s different ways to pay.

This incident occurred just a few weeks after Danica Patrick found herself explaining her 54-in-a-35 to officers in Scottsdale.  So if you’re not paying attention: the cops are out tonight.  They will gleefully drag your intoxicated and/or leadfooted posterior to an RV to be jabbed with a needle, fined mercilessly, and then eventually jailed.

Of course, the officer mentioned Tempe because ASU resides therein and ASU students are notorious for their inability to call cabs.  (We assume it’s part of freshman orientation now.)  Our hairstylist, an ASU student, told us just yesterday about a little old lady in her 50s (yes, college students still think 50 is the new dead) that got ensnared by the police for having one glass of wine at Olive Garden and driving home.

Naturally, the story is likely apocryphal, especially with that perfect detail about the drink being consumed at Olive Garden.   However, the point is taken: even ASU students are scared by the Task Force.  Unfortunately, Sir Charles apparently isn’t.

To Barkley’s defense, Old Town is lousy with stop signs to deter speeding through high foot traffic areas that don’t have any people around at 1:30 am.  (Also, they make you stare at all the Native American tchotchke stores and jewelry stores just a little longer.)  Even sober, we’ve wanted to run past them at high speed.  However, we didn’t.  And we were sober.

Why are we beating this drum so loudly?  Our first visit to Scottsdale approximately a decade ago was spent at a business hotel near the shinier parts of town.  Coming “home” from dinner that first night, we couldn’t get into our hotel entrance because the entire city block had been shuttered by a phalanx of official vehicles flashing a blinding number of red and blue lights.

Eventually, the hullabaloo was explained in the morning’s ARIZONA REPUBLIC: two kids coming home from prom night were hit head-on by another driver.  The teens weren’t drinking, but their assailant had been.  Despite the helicopter that took one to the hospital, both of them died.

For the rest of our stay, we watched a makeshift memorial for the high school students form and grow next to the entrance of the hotel.   We never saw a mourner ourselves, but we didn’t have to.

Call a cab.  Or, if you simply must drink yourself into a stupor and can’t bear the thought of spending money on cabs, stay home and do shots until Ryan Seacrest seems genuinely talented.  Just remember that emergency rooms are busy tonight and even ambulances have to avoid drunk drivers.