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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: January 16, 2014
Policeman is checking documents of a driver - Leckerman Law, LLC

A warning has been given to all individuals not to drink and drive in the next couple of weeks because there is a nationwide crackdown on impaired driving and local police will be looking for drivers driving under the influence on the roads.

The annual holiday crackdown on impaired driving was started earlier this week by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Governors Highway Safety Association, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland along with representatives from law enforcement.

In a statement, Foxx said, “With the help of our law enforcement partners, we’re sending a message across the country, today and throughout the holiday season – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”.

New guidelines on ignition interlock programs to help states develop and implement a breath-alcohol ignition interlock program were also released by NHTSA. It includes the installation of interlock devices in vehicles of first-time DUI offenders.

Foxx added, “With the release of our model guidelines for ignition interlock programs, we’re helping states improve their efforts to enforce safe driving among convicted offenders”.

All states order installation of interlocks in any way to keep DUI offenders from driving drunk and making people unsafe on the roads, according to the Detroit News, but in only twenty states and four California counties, installation of interlock devices is mandatory for drunk drivers. Interlock is an onboard Breathalyzer-type device to which the driver has to give a breath sample before the car starts and the device doesn’t allow the car’s engine to start if it detects alcohol in the user’s breath.

“States to adopt our new guidelines to protect sober motorists and ensure that individuals convicted of drunk driving learn from their mistakes”, Strickland said.

A research was conducted by NHTSA on drunk drivers and the result shows, “75 percent less likely to repeat the behavior compared to those who do not”.

In 2012, fatalities in accident involving drunk drivers increased 4.6% and claimed lives of 10,322 individuals. In 2011, the number of people who died due to drunk driving was 9,865. According to the agency, most of those accidents involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher which is almost double the legal limit of 0.08%. 830 deaths occurred as a result of drunk driving accidents during last year’s holiday season. Almost two of every five deaths (41 percent) that occur around New Year’s Day and Christmas (37 percent) were because of drunk driving, over the past decade.

In a struggle to increase alcohol-related road fatalities, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed decreasing the national limit for blood alcohol content from 0.08% to 0.05% last year.

NTSB’s stance was not supported by the NHTSA and MADD, NHTSA said it was “premature” to recommend a decreased in limit because it didn’t have data to support the conclusion that there would be a decrease in fatalities.

The campaign and accompanying law enforcement crackdown began on 13th of December and it will end on 1st of January. It is supported by $7.5 million in national ads on TV and radio. NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” message will also be featured in a new public service announcement.

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