Officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and Michigan State Police posts across the state arrested 351 drunk drivers and issued 2,630 seat belt and child restraint citations during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown. The stepped up drunk driving and seat belt enforcement began Aug. 21 and ran through the Labor Day holiday weekend.
“To enhance safety and reduce traffic fatalities, Michigan law enforcement officers have zero tolerance for motorists who fail to wear a seat belt, and they are experts at finding drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol,” said Michael L. Prince, Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) director. “Motorists were warned to drive sober or get pulled over, and more than 300 drivers failed to heed that advice.”
Preliminary reports also indicate officers made 152 drug arrests and 41 felony arrests during the nearly three-week effort. Of the 351 arrests for drunk driving, 57 persons had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 percent or higher.
Law enforcement officers in Branch County stopped a vehicle for motorist seat belt violation and found the passengers had open intoxicants as well as outstanding arrest warrants. A driver stopped for not wearing a seat belt in Wayne County had a BAC of .21. A motorcyclist arrested for operating while intoxicated in Clinton County had 11 prior drunk driving arrests.
According to preliminary reports, there were 13 traffic fatalities during the 2015 Labor Day holiday period. Three of those deaths involved alcohol and five vehicle occupants were not buckled up. During the 2014 Labor Day holiday period, five of the six fatal traffic crashes 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.
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 was supported with federal traffic safety funds coordinated by OHSP. Grant-funded impaired driving and seat belt enforcement are part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.