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Drive sober or get pulled over
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Each year from Aug. 19 through Sept. 5, which includes the Labor Day weekend, police agencies throughout the country engage in an enhanced DUI enforcement effort. This initiative takes place in concert with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which provides the advertising and public awareness component of the effort. This year's motto is "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." The motto is a good attention-getter, but it leaves out the "get arrested" part. Most agencies will operate with a "zero tolerance" policy, which, in effect, means that no one who drives DUI will get off with just a warning. With rare exception, most agencies operate with the zero tolerance posture year-around.

Statistics from recent years show that the age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in traffic crashes was in the 21-to-24 age range. Nearly a third of traffic fatalities involved a driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit - which is .08 for adult motorists.

Since twice as many alcohol-impaired accidents occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, law enforcement staffing will be increased and the officers will focus their efforts during those high-risk times when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads. It is also interesting to know that summertime DUI activity is higher than the rest of the year, and that males in the 21-34 year old range are statistically more likely DUI drivers.

The problem with using any intoxicants, whether alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal substances, is that they all significantly impair people's ability to use reason and good judgment. In other words, intoxicated persons frequently judge themselves to be "perfectly capable" of operating a motor vehicle safely even though they have been drinking or ingesting other drugs. A common problem, for example, is that it is easy to lose track of the number of drinks one has consumed. When under the influence, feelings of having increased skills are common, so these violators happily get behind the wheel, all too often ending up killing or maiming themselves or others. The only sure way to avoid these tragedies is to decide, prior to using any intoxicants, to not drive at all. Period. Designate a 100 percent sober driver in advance of any intoxicant usage, and stick with the plan.

Driving while intoxicated is a deadly, unforgivable crime and a careless disregard for human life. DUI collisions are totally preventable by leaving the driving to a sober person or by refraining from the use of intoxicants altogether.

Law enforcement officers handle the DUI collision scenes where people are hurt, killed or maimed, so is natural for them to take these enhanced enforcement efforts and the "zero tolerance" policy both as a moral imperative and legitimate initiative to reduce some of the human suffering that takes place in their communities. Motorists who choose to drive intoxicated will be treated with the assumption that they made a conscious choice to so, which means that the maximum applicable criminal charges will be sought with no consideration for leniency by the officers.