With NCAA tournament basketball action, high school and college spring breaks and St. Patrick’s Day this week, police in Michigan are gearing up for an increase in drunk drivers with a”Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. The latest effort involves local law enforcement officers, and those from county sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police in 26 counties through April 7th.
The enforcement crackdown follows the arrest of 2,279 people in Michigan for drunk driving during the NCAA tournament time period last year, and the need to reduce that number. Of those, 691 were charged under the state’s high blood-alcohol content (BAC) law with BACs of .17 or higher. More than 450 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies during last year’s stepped up drunk driving patrols.
Extra federally-funded patrols will operate in Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Chippewa, Delta, Eaton, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Marquette, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford counties.
In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.
Melody Kindraka, of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, says they are also partnering with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) to distribute basketball-themed drink coasters with a designated driver-related message, to encourage using designated drivers. Patrons at more than 1,100 MLBA member locations will use the coasters as they root for their favorite teams.