If you drink and drive in Minden beware, the Minden Police Department is joining with law enforcement throughout the nation for the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign August 17 to September 3.
The strong nationwide impaired driving crackdown will include high-visibility enforcement, high-profile events and will be supported by national paid advertising, creating a comprehensive campaign to curb alcohol impaired driving in August and through the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Police Chief Steve Cropper said officers will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone caught driving impaired.
It is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter. Despite these laws, in 2010 more than 10,000 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was impaired.
"On average there is one alcohol impaired driving-related fatality every 51 minutes across America. But this tragic loss of life can be reduced if we get impaired drivers off our roadways," Cropper said. "Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over'' campaign reduces alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent."
Cropper said a $5,000 highway safety grant is allowing his officers to receive overtime pay during the campaign.
"The grant funded $2,500 for overtime during the 'Click It or Ticket' campaign, and it will do the same for this one," said the chief.
During the Labor Day weekend in 2010, 147 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with BACs of .08 or higher. Of those fatalities, 80 percent occurred from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.
Among 18- to 34-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2010 Labor Day weekend, 54 percent were alcohol-impaired.
"Obviously we want to remind everyone that it is illegal to drive impaired, and we hope the campaign will remind people that if they plan on drinking, to never get behind the wheel," Cropper said. "But if someone does choose to drive impaired, we will arrest them. No warnings. No excuses."
According to the chief, violators face jail time, loss of their driver licenses and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of job. When family, friends and co-workers find out, violators also often face tremendous personal embarrassment.
"Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk. So don't take the chance," Cropper said. "Remember, we will be out in force and we will be watching."