No back-to-college checklist is complete without books, smart phones and backpacks. Law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police are encouraging everyone to also add a safe, sober ride home after a party.
Stepped up drunk driving patrols began last weekend and last through Sept. 7. This period includes student move-in at many Michigan colleges and universities, as well as the Labor Day holiday weekend.
For some college students, the dangers associated with underage drinking include academic issues, health risks and criminal charges, as well as serious injury or death from traffic crashes. Michigan has a zero tolerance alcohol law for a driver under 21 years old. Strong awareness and enforcement efforts help reduce underage drinking by limiting opportunities and access to alcohol and decreasing impaired driving.
“Wrapping up the summer and starting the school year should be full of possibilities, not tragedy from preventable drunk driving crashes,” said Michael L. Prince, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) director. “Be on notice: Michigan law enforcement officers will have extra patrols looking for drunk drivers and unbuckled motorists to help keep you and your family safe.”
During the 2014 Labor Day holiday period, five of the six fatal traffic crashes involved alcohol. In 2014, 319 people died in Michigan as a result of alcohol and/or drug-involved traffic crashes, a 9 percent decrease from 2013.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will also include stepped up seat belt enforcement. Buckling up can reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a crash by 45 percent.
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.
Michigan law requires drivers, front seat passengers and passengers 15 and younger, in any seating position, to be buckled up. Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall, and children under 4 years old must be in the back seat.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is supported with federal traffic safety funds coordinated by OHSP. Grant-funded impaired driving and seat belt enforcement is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.