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March 24, 2008 (LITTLE ROCK) – Officials of the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office announced plans today outlining a statewide initiative aimed toward alcohol prevention education and enforcement of underage drinking laws. Beginning March 28th and continuing through March 29th, the Highway Safety Office will work closely with city and county law enforcement agencies along with Arkansas State Troopers to reduce the number of alcohol related crashes among Arkansas youths. “Before the prom, spring break and upcoming graduation season, we want to send the message out early and be very clear about the fact that there is a zero tolerance policy for anyone under the age of 21 when it comes to drinking and driving in Arkansas,” said Colonel Winford E. Phillips, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. The underage drinking and driving prevention campaign includes enforcement operations, media awareness campaigns and school-based educational activities. According to highway safety officials, motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in America and nearly one-third of those deadly crashes are alcohol related. “Every year during end-of-school celebrations there are young people under the age of 21 who consume alcohol at proms and parties and are injured or killed in highway crashes,” said Colonel Phillips. “We want to do whatever we can to prevent families from having to endure that kind of tragedy.” Over 40 state and local police agencies will conduct a variety of enforcement activities including saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints. Simultaneously Arkansas youth will be exposed to radio and television advertisements about the enforcement operations. Local schools, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education, will coordinate a variety of educational programs designed to prevent the use of alcohol by students. Under Arkansas’s DUI Law, the following penalties apply to minors (under the age of 21) who drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .02 to .08: • Revocation of driver license for 90 days (1st offense) • Fine ranges between $100 and $500 • Mandatory completion of alcohol & driving education programs • Minors with a (BAC) of .08 or higher face tougher penalties • Suspension of driver license for refusing chemical test For more information on drinking and driving and underage drinking log onto www.stopimpaireddriving.com or www.arunderagedrinking.com.