This election year, selecting a designated driver is a vote to get home safe as police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police (MSP) in west Michigan will be conducting extra drunk driving patrols across the state to locate and arrest drunk drivers.
The stepped up enforcement is part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign Aug. 18-Sept. 5. The initiative includes the Labor Day holiday period, a popular Michigan travel time.
“Motorists who choose to drive drunk endanger everyone on the roadway. In 2015 Michigan saw a drastic increase in alcohol- and drug-involved fatalities,” said Michael L. Prince, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) director. “The extra officers participating in this enforcement effort will send a clear message: if you drive drunk you will be arrested.”
According to information released by the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center this spring, alcohol-involved fatalities were up 28 percent, from 236 in 2014 to 303 in 2015. Drug-involved fatal crashes spiked 19 percent, up from 150 in 2014 to 179 in 2015.
During last year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement, officers arrested 351 drunk drivers and issued 2,630 seat belt and child restraint citations. Fifteen people died in 12 traffic crashes during the 2015 Labor Day holiday period, a significant increase from six fatalities during the 2014 Labor Day holiday. Nearly two-thirds of the 2015 Labor Day holiday cashes involved alcohol.
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.
Grant-funded drunk driving enforcement is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.