The "Booze and Belts" campaign is a new initiative that combines the "Click It or Ticket" and "Drunk Driving -- Over the Limit, Under Arrest" campaigns. Law enforcement officers statewide will be looking for impaired drivers as well as those who are not buckled up.
A review of 2008 traffic crash data indicates that alcohol was determined to be a contributing factor in 29 percent of Arkansas traffic fatalities (based on drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher). 72 percent of those killed were not wearing seatbelts.
With the recent change to the Arkansas Seatbelt Law, a vehicle may be stopped by police and the driver or passenger ticketed if either is not buckled up. Under the new primary law, police officers are not required to observe a violation other than the seatbelt in order to initiate the traffic stop.
Law enforcement officers ask that all motorists remember that, as the last summer holiday nears, an increase in highway traffic volume is common. Everyone should allow for extra time to make their respective trips, use their seat belts and if they plan to drink, rely upon a designated driver.
This year law enforcement agencies in Arkansas have access to a vital new tool to combat drunk driving.
"With funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recently developed and implemented a Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit Program," said Steve Shults, director of criminal justice course studies at Black River Technical College Law Enforcement Training Academy.
The BATMobile is a high-tech, 42 foot vehicle that will increase the visibility of DWI enforcement activities and also serves as a deterrent to potential drinking drivers.
The BATMobile has been specially customized to meet the needs of law enforcement officers with "on-the-spot" capabilities for processing drunk and impaired driving suspects. Not only does the vehicle assist with enforcement, it's also an educational center that will be made available to law enforcement agencies at various events throughout the state. For more information on the Booze and Belts campaign or the BATMobile, call the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office at 501-618-8136.