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Fourth of July drunk driving crackdown kicks off

Eight area counties step up enforcement

To truly celebrate our freedom this Fourth of July holiday, motorists need to designate a sober driver or risk ending up behind bars. A statewide night patrol impaired driving enforcement crackdown kicks off July 1, with nearly 150 law enforcement agencies in 26 counties participating.

In 2013, 354 people died in Michigan as a result of alcohol and/or drug-involved traffic crashes, a 3.5 percent increase from 2012. To help prevent these tragedies, law enforcement agencies from local police departments, sheriff offices and Michigan State Police posts across the state will conduct extra drunk driving patrols throughout this popular summer holiday period.

The effort runs through July 13 and is paid for with federal funds administered by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). Grant-funded counties in West Michigan are Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren.

“Alcohol-involved fatalities have increased during the last few years resulting in more families mourning the preventable loss of a loved one,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “The officers are taking part to encourage drivers to make smart decisions and plan ahead to ensure a safe way home. Make no mistake, if you drive drunk, you will be arrested.”

During the 2013 Fourth of July holiday period, 19 people died on Michigan roads. Six of the fatal crashes were alcohol-related. The official holiday period began at 6 p.m. on July 3, 2013 and ran until midnight on July 7, 2013.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer feels they are impaired. Under the state’s high BAC law, motorists face enhanced penalties if a first-time arrest is for a .17 BAC or higher.

This project is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.

 

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