Jonesboro police ramping up defense against impaired driving

Jonesboro police ramping up defense against impaired driving
If you are willing to drive impaired, police have a warning for you.

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Police Department is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on drunk driving.

The 20-day, high-visibility campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, is a partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to curb impaired driving and save lives.

Starting Friday, Aug. 21 through Labor Day, law enforcement nationwide will show zero tolerance for drunk driving.

JPD will be utilizing the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile from the Law Enforcement Training Academy at Black River Technical College on the first night of the campaign.

This specialized vehicle has four different cameras on board that record the sobriety checks.

The BAT Mobile also features a unique capability not found on other sobriety checkpoint vehicles.

Police officers who have received specialized drug recognition expert training can field test drivers suspected of prescription or illegal drug impairment inside the BAT Mobile.

According to a news release from JPD, there were 10,076 people killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2013.

That makes up almost a third of all traffic deaths.

A total of 38% of crash deaths on Labor Day weekend that year involved drunk drivers, leaving 161 people dead.

"Too many people think their actions don't affect anybody else," Sgt. George Martin with the Jonesboro police said. "They know it's illegal. They know it's wrong. But they do it anyway – they make decisions as if those statistics just can't happen to them."

In every state, it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

Martin said he wants to remind Jonesboro drivers that it's not a recommendation; it's the law.

During the enforcement period, there will be a special emphasis on drunk-driving enforcement.

Local drivers should expect to see more patrol vehicles, DUI checkpoints and increased messaging about this "reckless, preventable crime."

"The number of people who are still drinking and driving is unacceptable," Martin said. "Yes, we want to increase awareness for the campaign, but we want the effects to be permanent."

Sgt. Martin emphasized the preventable nature of drunk driving.

"All it takes is a little planning ahead," he said. "Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don't drink and drive."

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