Motorists heading out to cheer on their favorite college hoops team at the local sports bar or to toast the luck of the Irish at the corner pub are reminded to design-te a sober driver before the celebration starts.
Law enforcement officers from 160 agencies are conducting extra patrols to look for and arrest drunk drivers March 13-April 2. This time period includes the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as well as St. Patrick’s Day.
Agencies in 26 counties, including Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren, will be conducting drunk driving enforcement paid for through federal traffic safety funds administered by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).
“If you’re out celebrating a big win or having a green beer with friends, be sure to designate a sober driver,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Drunk driving is not tolerated in Michigan. Anyone caught driving drunk will be arrested. No excuses. No second chances.”
In the past, March drunk driving enforcement efforts were focused only on St. Patrick’s Day. A five-year review of crash data indicates both alcohol use and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes during the month and into early April.
In 2011, 2,215 people were arrested for drunk driving during the NCAA tournament time period; 613 were arrested under the state’s high blood-alcohol content (BAC) law with BAC’s of .17 or higher.
In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.