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CRACKDOWN ON DRUNK DRIVING - UNDERAGE DRINKING

March 07, 2013

ARKANSAS SETS ZERO TOLERANCE FOR TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS

LITTLE ROCK – The weekend of March 8th marks the beginning of two law enforcement operations that will occur over the next six weeks dedicated to identifying and arresting young drivers who may be drunk or impaired. The operations are being coordinated by the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office working with state, county and city law enforcement officers in a statewide effort to crackdown on drunk driving.

During the assignments scheduled for March 8th - 17th and April 12th - 21st, stepped-up patrols and an increased use of sobriety checkpoints will occur across Arkansas as part of a unified law enforcement plan to identify and arrest drunk drivers of all ages, but with a heightened alert on teenagers and college age individuals.

Arkansas’s Underage Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Law, makes it illegal for anyone under age twenty-one to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.02 and 0.07.

“For a young driver, this means one drink is all it takes to be impaired,” said Colonel Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governors Highway Safety Representative.

If an underage driver is apprehended with a BAC of .08 or greater, law enforcement officers are required to arrest the person under the Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Law.

A DUI conviction can result in the loss of driving privileges, fines of up to $2,000, along with required community service. A teenager convicted of DWI faces the same criminal penalties as an adult, which includes jail sentencing, fines, court costs, license suspension, community service and other possible punishments. Insurance premiums for anyone convicted of DUI or DWI typically increases significantly.

“Impaired driving is not just another traffic offense, it’s a serious crime that often causes needless deaths and injuries,” Colonel Witt stated. “The message is simple to understand, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The initiative purposely coincides with the spring season when many young people are on school breaks, celebrating proms and attending graduation parties.

Alcohol related fatalities involving individuals under the age of twenty-one increase during this particular time of year, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Nationwide, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death among teenagers.

During 2011 there were 100 drivers under the age of 21 with positive blood-alcohol concentrations involved in motor vehicle crashes.

This year’s campaign seeks to raise awareness of the serious and deadly consequences of impaired driving for teens through heightened law enforcement activities and paid media. The overall message is one of deterrence, designed to make teens think twice about drinking and driving and risking their lives and those of their fellow motorists.

For more information on underage drinking prevention, visit www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For parents and caregivers who want to know more about keeping their teen driver safe, visit www.SaferTeenDrivingAr.org.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ann Whitehead (501) 618-8133
ann.whitehead@asp.arkansas.gov