While the Labor Day weekend is still nearly a month away, Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies want to make sure everyone puts a wrap on summer in Michigan’s Great Southwest in a safe and sober manner. The Sheriff’s team will launch their traditional Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Labor Day campaign already starting this Friday, August 14th.
From this Friday through September 7th, the Sheriff’s Department is taking a before and during approach to the the Labor Day weekend, by participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. They tell us that in order to help protect the lives of local residents there will be increased patrols on area roads from this Friday, August 14th through Labor Day Monday, September 7th with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.
During the 2019 Labor Day holiday in Michigan, 10 individuals lost their lives in traffic crashes. Throughout 2019, there were 9,787 alcohol-involved crashes in Michigan with 295 alcohol-involved fatalities statewide.
Sheriff L. Paul Bailey reminds everyone, “Drunk Driving is deadly and illegal” and adds, “It is never acceptable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you’ve been drinking. Doing so endangers you, your passengers, and everyone on the road with you. If you’re attending Labor Day weekend parties or other celebrations to mark the end of summer, always drive sober.”
Sheriff Bailey and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both urge drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the day. If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving.
Bailey recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving.
- Remember that it is never acceptable to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan on using public transportation or a ride-sharing service to get home safely.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement agency.
- Do you have a friend or family member, who is about to drink and drive? If so take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend or family member home safely.
In addition to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office participating in this campaign, 108 other law enforcement agencies across Michigan will also participate. The extra overtime funding is paid with federal funds administered by the Office of Highway Safety Planning. The campaign is about saving lives, not writing citations, which is why it is widely publicized.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 10,511 individuals lost their lives in traffic crashes in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2018. Although it’s illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher, in 2018, one person was killed every 50 minutes by a drunk driver on our nation’s roadways.
Laboratory and on-road research shows most drivers are significantly impaired at a BAC of .08 with regards to critical driving tasks such as braking, steering, lane changing, judgment, and divided attention.
Driving while high will also affect your ability to drive properly. It has been proven that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychoactive effects – slow reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane. That is a deadly combination. In addition, something as simple as cold medication or an over-the-counter sleep aid could impair a person’s ability to drive. If it does, a person can be arrested on charges of Operating While Intoxicated, or OWI. A person should not drive until they know what effect the medication will have on their judgment, coordination, and reaction time.
Michigan law considers persons with a BAC of .08 or greater to be driving drunk, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Michigan drivers cannot operate, navigate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Drivers and/or their passengers are also prohibited from smoking marijuana within the passenger area of a vehicle on a public roadway. Michigan’s drunk driving law contains a zero-tolerance provision for drivers with certain illegal narcotics in their system. Prosecutors do not have to prove the driver was impaired, just that they were driving with those drugs in their system. The same penalties for drunk driving will apply to those convicted under the zero-tolerance drug provisions.
If you are caught driving impaired, you can face jail time. On average, an OWI may cost you $10,000 in attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing fees, and vehicle repairs. The financial impact from an OWI is devastating. Based on 2010 figures (the most recent year for which cost data is available), OWI crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually.