MSP launches impaired driving enforcement campaign

Published 12:00 pm Monday, August 16, 2021

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — The end of summer is traditionally marked by the Labor Day holiday and is a time for friends and families to enjoy pool parties, backyard barbecues and other activities. However, the Labor Day holiday weekend is also one of the deadliest times of the year in terms of impaired-driving fatalities.

That is why law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police are partnering with the Office of Highway Safety Planning to get drunk and drugged drivers off our roads and save lives during the enforcement campaigns Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DUI, which will run from Aug. 16 to Sept. 6.

During this period, increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with extra enforcement and increased officers on the roadway, aim to drastically reduce drunk and drugged driving.

“The Labor Day holiday is a time for fun and community as families and friends gather for a final, late-summer celebration. Unfortunately, there are people who will make the wrong choice to drive impaired, needlessly putting themselves and others at risk,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “The law enforcement officers participating in these campaigns are dedicated to enforcing our traffic laws and keeping our roadways safe. We need people to understand that it’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober.”

Over the 2020 Labor Day holiday period in Michigan, there were 1,833 crashes, including 15 fatal crashes, resulting in 15 fatalities. Of those 15 fatal crashes, eight involved alcohol and/or drugs.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration 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. Anyone who refuses a breath test for the first time is given a one-year driver’s license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, it is a two-year suspension.

According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, in 2020, a total of 161 alcohol-impaired drivers involved in crashes in Michigan were killed, and 63 of those drivers were not wearing seat belts.

Last year, nearly 42 percent of fatalities on Michigan roadways involved alcohol and/or drugs.

During last year’s August enforcement campaign, officers made 181 Operating While Intoxicated and 35 Operating Under the Influence of Drugs arrests for a total of 216 alcohol- and drug-related arrests.

The impaired-driving campaigns are supported with federal traffic safety funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and coordinated by the OHSP.