Drunk driving crackdown kicked off in West Michigan March 12
Law enforcement agencies in 26 counties are hitting the streets to combat drunk driving during the trifecta of March Madness, spring break and St. Patrick’s Day.
Officers in Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren counties are conducting extra patrols to arrest drunk drivers March 12-April 7. This time period includes the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, high school and college spring break periods and 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 in March and early April.
The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is coordinating the effort ,which is supported by federal traffic safety funds.
“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. “Extra officers will be out on patrol, and if you’re caught driving drunk you will be arrested.”
In 2013, 2,271 people were arrested for drunk driving during the NCAA tournament time period. Of those, 671 were arrested under the state’s high blood-alcohol content (BAC) law with BACs of .17 or higher. More than 500 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies during last year’s drunk driving crackdown.
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.