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Drunk driving crackdown results in fewer arrests

Drunk drivers arrested during the recent Over the Limit. Under Arrest. crackdown are just beginning to deal with the ramifications of their arrest. However, the positive news is that more people heeded the campaign’s warnings resulting in fewer drunk drivers on the road and fewer arrests.

This year, officers statewide made more than 13,000 traffic stops compared to 11,770 last year, yet arrested 200 fewer drunk drivers. During this year’s three-week enforcement period, 552 motorists were arrested for drunk driving, while 770 were arrested in 2008.

The annual Over the Limit. Under Arrest. drunk driving crackdown also netted 67 drug-related arrests, 108 open intoxication citations, 248 seat belt and child seat citations, and 32 other alcohol-related arrests.

Nearly 300 law enforcement agencies took to the streets Aug. 15 – Sept. 7 as part of the nationwide effort to reduce injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving crashes. The crackdown was coordinated by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and paid for with federal traffic safety dollars.

“The high visibility ad campaign and increased police presence are working to deter drunk driving,” said OHSP Director Michael L. Prince. “The goal of these drunk driving crackdowns is to keep people from driving drunk in the first place. Making an arrest is the second line of defense.”

According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, it can be hard to find reasons to stop a vehicle in a small town like Cedar Springs, to investigate for alcohol consumption. “We had 122 hours of extra patrol, stopping 105 vehicles over the 18-day period,” he noted. He reported that they had one arrest for OWI, and one other alcohol related offense. There seven misdemeanor arrests and three drug-related arrests. Of the 105 stops, they varied from speed to safety belt violations, and many were for equipment violations.

“Having officers stop that many drivers without finding a lot of alcohol-related offenses is a very positive indicator for Cedar Springs,” remarked Chief Parent. OHSP goals are to warn and educate drivers of the enforcement periods and to discourage drinking and driving. Because they’ve done so many enforcement periods over the last few years, I feel their efforts are starting to pay off.”

Officers will again work federally funded overtime enforcement during Halloween weekend. Timeframes for stepped up enforcement are selected based on crash data, agency participation and officer availability.

Preliminary results show there were 10 traffic fatalities in Michigan over the Labor Day holiday weekend, two of which involved alcohol, according to the Michigan State Police, Criminal Justice Information Center. In comparison, 12 people died in traffic crashes during the 2008 Labor Day holiday weekend, four of which involved alcohol.

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