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Old 12-13-2007, 02:29 PM   #1
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Post "Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest" DWI Crackdown in Louisiana

“Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest” DWI Crackdown in Louisiana
Tough new Louisiana DWI Law: Col Jim Champagne says “You go to jail.”

By Tom Pace, Executive Editor, SBLive!
December 13th, 2007

Don’t whine about getting stopped for drunk driving this holiday season.
Louisiana law enforcement officers will not accept any excuses. They have one message: “Don’t Drink and Drive!” And, they’re dead serious about it.

Flanked by various local and state police officers, Executive Director of the Louisiana State Highway Commission, Col. Jim Champagne held a morning news conference in front of Shreveport Police Department headquarters.
Champagne’s message was simple. Louisiana has seen a drastic increase in alcohol- related crashes in the past year, and he intends to crackdown this holiday season on persons who want to drink and drive.

As part of the state’s, ‘Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest’ campaign, Champagne said the state of Louisiana is providing overtime grants to State Police, and more than 40 law enforcement agencies in an effort to reduce the number of people killed in crashes during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.

As proof, he said, more than 570 crashes involving fatalities or injuries occurres during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in Louisiana in 2006. Six of the eight deaths, were in alcohol-related crashes…while 989 were injured.

“Drunken driving is a year-round problem, but it becomes especially serious during holidays and other events that feature parties and celebrations where alcohol is served,” said Col. Champagne.

“Our goal is to make certain drivers are aware that Louisiana now has one of the toughest DWI laws in the nation,” Champagne continued, “and we project this new law could save 50-75 lives in Louisiana each year.

To emphasize how serious the new law is, he told the media, that many DWI offenders will now have to install an ‘ignition interlock system’ in their vehicle (which will prevent drivers from starting their cars after consuming alcohol).

The bottom line, if you must drink, designate a driver, or call a cab, because, like Col Jim Champagne warns: Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest goes into effect December 15th and continues thru January 6th in Louisiana. (And, of course, there’s continued enforcement, all-year-round, looking to crackdown on those same folks making bad decision.)

*****************

Public safety officials announce holiday season crackdown on drunk drivers
Law enforcement agencies to be out in force and armed with new, tough DWI laws
Contact: Jamie Ainsworth (225) 925-6998 Col. James Champagne (225) 925-6993

BATON ROUGE – Armed with increased penalties for drunken driving that are among the toughest in the nation, Louisiana law enforcement agencies will be out in force to keep drunken drivers off of the roads during this holiday season.

As part of the state’s “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” campaign, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is providing overtime grants to State Police and more than 40 law enforcement agencies in an effort to reduce the number of people killed in crashes during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.

The effort will focus on drunken drivers through increased holiday patrols, sobriety checkpoints, public outreach & other efforts.

More than 570 crashes involving fatalities or injuries occurred during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in Louisiana in 2006. Those crashes resulted in eight deaths and 989 injuries. Six of the eight deaths were in alcohol-related crashes.

Winter festivities in Louisiana will continue after New Year’s Eve with a nearly non-stop slate of events that includes the Sugar Bowl, the BCS Championship, Super Bowl parties & Mardi Gras.

“Drunken driving is a year-round problem, but it becomes especially serious during holidays and other events that feature parties and celebrations where alcohol is served,” said James E. Champagne, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “Our goal is to make certain drivers are aware that Louisiana now has one of the toughest DWI laws in the nation. We project this new law could save 50 to 75 lives in Louisiana each year.”

Under a law that took effect in August, DWI offenders in Louisiana whose licenses are suspended are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for one year, if they are granted a “hardship license.” Many first-time DWI offenders apply for and are granted hardship licenses, which allow them to drive to and from certain places, such as work and doctors offices. Such drivers will now have to install ignition interlocks in their vehicles. The law also increased the term of license suspension from 90 days to one year for first-time offenders.

The way the ignition interlock device works is simple. A driver breathes into a mouthpiece to determine breath alcohol concentration. If the system detects alcohol, the vehicle does not start. Drivers required to install the devices in their vehicles will be responsible for all costs and maintenance. Ignition interlock devices are manufactured under a multitude of names, such as SmartStart, Intoxaloc and Guardian Interlock, but the costs and procedures associated with operating each are similar. Installation and monthly fees for an ignition interlock for one year can reach $1,000. Drivers who are required to have ignition interlock devices also must make frequent appointments to have the instruments reset and recalibrated.

“Tougher laws and improving technology will work together to save lives by keeping drunken drivers off Louisiana’s roadways,” Champagne said. “This law is one of the toughest in the nation and puts Louisiana in the forefront of efforts to save lives by keeping intoxicated people from driving.

“The devices have built-in calendars that keep track of scheduled maintenance. If the appointment is not kept, the vehicle will not start and will remain disabled until it is serviced by a certified technician.”

Drunken driving is a serious problem in Louisiana. In 2006, 455 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in Louisiana, and more than 17,000 were killed nationwide. Alcohol was a factor in 46 percent of crash fatalities in 2006. Authorities in Louisiana arrested more than 17,000 drivers on DWI charges in 2005.

Another provision of the new law doubles the term of a license suspension for second-time offenders from 12 months to 24 months, and for third-time offenders 24 months to 36 months. The time that second and third offenders must use ignition interlock devices if they are granted hardship licenses also increases.

With the new law, persons convicted of first-offense DWI now face penalties and expenses that can include fines, time in jail, attorney’s fees, license reinstatement fees, court fees, towing and impoundment fees, suspension of driver’s license for one year, and installation of an ignition interlock if they are granted a hardship license. The new law also authorizes doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and other qualified technicians to perform tests to determine if a person involved in a crash that involves serious injures is intoxicated.




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