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Tag Archive | "drunk driving"

Drunk driving crackdown kicks off in West Michigan

Thirteen local counties step up enforcement for July 4th holiday

Summertime in Michigan means trips to the beach, barbeques and ball games, but it also means extra police officers on the road during the Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. crackdown.

Law enforcement agencies in 35 counties across the state will work stepped up drunk driving patrols July 1-10, which will include the heavily traveled July 4th weekend.

The effort is paid for with federal funds earmarked for traffic safety enforcement and administered by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).

Grant-funded counties in West Michigan are Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Van Buren.

“While the focus of this effort is drivers under the influence of alcohol, officers will be arresting any impaired driver and removing not only drunk drivers from the roadway, but also those under the influence of drugs,” OHSP director Michael L. Prince said.

Although Michigan has experienced a decrease in alcohol-related crashes, fatalities and arrests, it has noted an increase in drug-involvement in traffic crashes and injuries. In 2009, drugs accounted for an additional 83 injuries and 89 crashes compared to 2008. In 2010, drug-involved fatalities increased by 29 percent with 153 motorists killed in crashes involving drugs. Some of that increase can be attributed to expanded testing requests.

In 2010, 357 people died in alcohol and/or drug-related crashes including two during the July 4th holiday period.

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Drive drunk if you want one of these for Christmas

Unless they want to find one of this year’s most unwanted electronic gadgets under the tree, motorists need to designate a sober driver this holiday season. Law enforcement officers across the state are taking part in a drunk driving crackdown Dec. 16-Jan. 2. Those that choose to drive drunk could find themselves the recipient of an ignition interlock to start off the new year.
More than 200 law enforcement agencies in 35 counties are conducting drunk driving enforcement during extra patrols funded by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) through federal traffic safety funds.
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 exhibit signs of impairment while driving. As of Oct. 31, under the new high BAC law, motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested with a .17 BAC or higher.
“The holidays are a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Help keep this festive season safe by not drinking and driving or planning ahead by designating a sober driver.”
In 2009, there were 299 alcohol-related traffic deaths, a decrease of 5.7 percent from 2008. Although the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths declined last year, crashes involving alcohol are eight times more likely to be fatal.
During last year’s Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods, 10 people died in traffic crashes. Four of those deaths were alcohol-related.
A motorist convicted of drunk driving can expect to face serious consequences including:

If convicted under Michigan’s new high BAC law, in addition to points on their driver’s license and community service, enhanced penalties for first-time drivers include:
Motorists who wish to have limited driving privileges following a 45-day license suspension may do so only after a breath alcohol ignition interlock device is installed on their vehicle. Installation and monthly fees are the responsibility of the driver.
An ignition interlock requires a driver to blow into the device and prevents a vehicle from starting if it measures a BAC of .025 or above. In addition, the device requires periodic retests when driving longer periods. The device records the date and time of each test and any violation is reported to the Department of State.
In addition, all convicted drunk drivers are subject to a $1,000 fee for two consecutive years, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs. Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension.

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Stepped up drunk driving patrols honor victims

Muskegon woman urges drivers to “think before they drink”

It has been nearly 12 years since Dianna Ockaski’s life was changed after a crash with a drunk driver. The Muskegon woman was on her way to work in the early morning when a drunk driver, traveling about 55 mph, broadsided her vehicle and trapped her inside.

It took firefighters 45 minutes to free her from the vehicle, and when they did, she was taken into emergency surgery to remove a large piece of glass from her eye and reconstruct the eye and socket. She received more than 110 stitches in her face and suffered soft tissue damage to her ribs and severe bruising over most of her body.

Although the crash occurred over a decade ago, she still struggles daily with eye issues, including infection and discomfort. “I would never want anyone to go through what I’ve been through,”Ockaski said. “I want people to think before they drink and get in the car. This is avoidable.”

Ockaski and five other victims and their families across the state are being recognized and remembered as officers in West Michigan and across the state step up drunk driving patrols leading up to Labor Day. They started the patrols last Friday, August 21.

“More people are injured and killed in drunk driving crashes in August than in any other month,” Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael L. Prince said. “Everyone should be aware of the extra patrols and remember to plan ahead and never drive drunk.”

OHSP is coordinating the Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. crackdown by administering federal traffic safety funds to more than 300 agencies in 54 counties, including Kent, Montcalm, Newaygo, Muskegon and others. The Cedar Springs Police Department will be one of the agencies taking part in the crackdown, which runs Aug. 21 through September 7. According to Chief Roger Parent, they will have at least one extra patrol out for the program. “We’ll look for legal reasons to stop vehicles, and will look for alcohol-impaired drivers. We’ll also encourage seat-belt use,” he noted.

About 35 percent of all traffic fatalities in Michigan involve alcohol and/or drugs, including four during last year’s Labor Day weekend.

A first-time drunk driving conviction carries heavy penalties, including up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, up to 360 hours of community service, six points on a driver’s license, and up to 180 days license suspension.

Convicted drunk drivers will be subject to a $1,000 fee for two consecutive years, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs. Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension.

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