DUI Patrols Nationwide Looking for Impaired Drivers

The New Year's holiday brings a spike in DUI arrests and, in many states, in alcohol-related crashes.

Extra police patrols have been mounted by police agencies across the country during the New Year's Eve holiday period that ends at midnight Tuesday, Jan. 1. Highway patrol agencies warned residents not to drink and drive, to choose a designated driver in advance, and to buckle their seat belts if traveling during the holiday.

The extra patrols began at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28. The California Highway Patrol announced its Maximum Enforcement Period would be in effect statewide, following 25 traffic deaths and more than 1,200 DUI arrests during the New Year's holiday last year and 36 deaths/1,170 DUI arrests during the Christmas holiday period this year.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol was one of many agencies using "no refusal" enforcement, which allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers. THP said five people died during the 2011 New Year's holiday period, including three who were not wearing seat belts. So far this year, there have been 7,567 alcohol-related crashes in Tennessee, according to the agency's news release.

Minnesota authorities are hoping for a fifth consecutive New Year's holiday period without a drunk driving fatality recorded. But the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety also reported about 1,300 people have been arrested for DUI so far in December 2012, and during the past three Decembers, 28 people have died in DUI crashes and 7,497 have been arrested for driving under the influence. The office has posted a YouTube video titled "Toasted" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXDTSwTzTGM&feature=youtu.be that urges residents not to drive under the influence.

In Georgia during last year's New Year's holiday period, 262 people were arrested for DUI and troopers investigated 296 crashes that caused 172 injuries and seven deaths.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus L. Brown said drunk driving enforcement operations in that states are focused on areas where traffic crashes and incidents of impaired driving arrests are highest. Every trooper on patrol throughout the holiday will be on the alert for drunk drivers, in addition to troopers working sobriety checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols. "Our focus will be on locating and arresting impaired drivers as we work to keep Maryland roads safe during the holiday," Brown said. "The 171 alcohol-related deaths last year in Maryland are tragic reminders that drunk drivers continue to be a significant threat on our roads. There is no excuse for drunk driving, and we will accept none. Drunk drivers will be arrested and charged, hopefully before they have caused another tragedy."

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