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STATEWIDE LAW ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVE SET TO TARGET IMPAIRED DRIVERS DURING HOLIDAY SEASON

December 17, 2009 (LITTLE ROCK) – Sharing holiday cheer by driving drunk or under the influence of drugs will come with heightened risks during the coming weeks for drivers who choose to violate Arkansas impaired driving laws. The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office is joining state and local law enforcement agencies in a national enforcement campaign known as, Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies and city police officers across Arkansas will devote additional personnel hours to saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints between December 21st (2009) and January 3rd (2010). “The focus of this escalated effort is saving lives,” said Colonel Winford E. Phillips, Director of the Arkansas State Police. “I urge all Arkansans and anyone who plans to drive through the state to drive sober and buckle up, not only through the holidays, but whenever they may be in the driver’s seat.” During a five-year period from 2004 through 2008, traffic crashes killed 41 people and injured 4,062 during the combined Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods, according to statistical data from the Arkansas Highway Safety Office. The records indicate 44 percent of the fatalities involved alcohol as a contributing factor. Although traffic fatalities declined by 7.6 percent in Arkansas last year, more than 170 people lost their lives in alcohol related crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher “The more drunk drivers we can take off the road, the more lives we save,” Colonel Phillips said. An impaired driver convicted of the crime runs the risk of losing their driver license, an extended jail sentence and costs of attorney fees and court fines. Local law enforcement officers and State Troopers have committed to work longer hours and target their patrols searching for impaired drivers. “These officers will not be looking for excuses,” Colonel Phillips said. “If you are caught drinking and driving or impaired by drugs, you will be arrested and taken to jail.” The national Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. impaired driving crackdown is a deterrence program organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The program focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity. For more information, visit www.Stopimpaireddriving.org or contact the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.