August 22, 2007 Edition

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Local and state law enforcement
officers to increase patrols

As millions of Americans hit the highways for one last summertime getaway, law enforcement officers across the country are preparing to join in a concerted enforcement crackdown known as Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.

During the coming weeks, Aug. 17 through Sept. 3, local and state law enforcement officers in Arkansas will join in the Labor Day holiday enforcement campaign, which combines high-visibility presence on the highways with heightened public awareness to help save lives and prevent injuries.

The enforcement crackdown, including sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and a national advertising blitz was announced earlier this week by Arkansas State Police Director Colonel Winford E. Phillips, who was joined by the Arkansas State Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Teresa Belew and representatives of state, county and city law enforcement agencies who stand united in the fight against drunk driving.

Impaired driving is one of America's most often committed and deadliest crimes. Overall in 2006, more than 15,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

"Last year in Arkansas, there were seven traffic fatalities during the four-day Labor Day reporting period," said Phillips. "Two of the crashes were alcohol related and involved drivers with alcohol concentrations nearly twice the legal limit."

Motorcycle riding is increasing in popularity, and the total number of motorcycle related fatalities in Arkansas has almost quadrupled over the past ten years. These fatalities presently account for thirteen percent of Arkansas' total traffic deaths.

Thirty-seven percent of the 72 motorcycle operators who died in Arkansas highway crashes during 2005 had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher.

"This is why, with the help of law enforcement on the ground and advertising on the airwaves, we will be working hard during the days surrounding the coming holiday to increase public awareness and discourage people from choosing to drink and drive," Colonel Phillips said. "No matter what you drive, a passenger car, pickup, sport utility vehicle or motorcycle, if we catch you driving while impaired, we will arrest you."

"Highly visible law enforcement, including sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, are proven to remove drunk drivers from the road," said Belew. "MADD is leading its national campaign to eliminate drunk driving, and law enforcement is critically important to our goal of a state and nation without drunk driving."

The blood-alcohol concentration level of .08 is the illegal level in all 50 states. It is a concentration level at which risk of a fatal crash increases significantly. At that point, all of the critical driving skills, braking, directional control and time-distance judgment, are impacted by the alcohol consumption. According to MADD, the risk of a driver dying in a crash with a blood-alcohol level of .08 is at least 11 times that of drivers without alcohol.

"We want to make an impression on all motorists who may consume alcohol then think about driving. Our message is simple: If we catch you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions. No excuses." Phillips said.

"We want everyone to play it safe and always designate a sober driver or find a different way to get where you are going safely."

Phillips shared the following tips for a safe Labor Day weekend:

Drunk Driving: Over the Limit. Under Arrest. is a national impaired driving enforcement campaign organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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