The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office has announced a coordinated law enforcement operation which will commit significant resources toward arresting drunk drivers during the coming holidays. State and local law enforcement agencies across the state have agreed to join together to implement the operation known as, "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest."
The intensified enforcement effort directed toward drunk drivers underscores the severity of the problem both locally and across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 992 individuals were killed during December 2007 as the result of motor vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver. The crashes involved both conventional passenger vehicles and motorcycles. In each of the fatal crashes a driver's blood/alcohol concentration (BAC) was detected of .08 or higher, which is above the legal limit in every state as well as the District of Columbia.
"State and local law enforcement officers will be out in force making sure drunk drivers are off the road," said State Police Director, Colonel Winford E. Phillips. "Impaired driving is a crime and will not be tolerated. Anyone who takes the chance to drive while they are over the legal limit will be arrested -- no exceptions, no excuses."
Sheriff departments in Sharp, Fulton and Izard counties will have their deputies on duty patrolling area roads during the holiday season. "We will have all of our guys out working during the holidays," Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger said. "We will be working in conjunction with the Arkansas State Police and we will not tolerate drunk driving."
Nationwide during 2007 there were 12,998 traffic fatalities involving passenger vehicle drivers or motorcycle riders/operators who had a .08 or higher BAC compared with 13,491 during the same 2006 reporting period. Arkansas also experienced a reduction in the same type of fatalities, from 200 during 2006 to 182 one year later in the same reporting period.
"Although we've seen nationwide reductions in drunk driving deaths since 2007, our work is far from over" said Colonel Phillips. "Too many people continue to suffer due to serious injuries or the emotional trauma associated with losing a friend or family member as a result of these serious crimes."
The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends designating a sober driver and refusing to allow friends to drive drunk as just two of many simple steps to avoid a crash or an impaired driving arrest. Other important tips include:
* Plan ahead. Whenever you expect to consume alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
* If you're impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
* Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.
* Always wear your seat belt or use protective gear while on a motorcycle. These items are your best defense against an impaired driver.
"Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. It has deadly serious consequences and it's against the law. Violators will be spending their money on bail, court, lawyers and towing fees instead of buying holiday presents for loved ones. That's not a great way to end the year," said Colonel Phillips.
For more than 25 years every U.S. president has demonstrated a commitment to the prevention of impaired driving by proclaiming December as National Drunk & Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month.
For more information, visit www.StopImpairedDriving.org or call the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office at 501-618-8133.