Motorists should count on a sober driver, not luck, to get home safely

Luck may belong to the Irish and might even help a college hoops team make it through the playoffs, but it won’t help Michigan motorists who don’t designate a sober driver over the next couple of weeks.

Law enforcement agencies in 26 counties are conducting more than 13,200 hours of extra patrols to arrest drunk drivers today through April 8. This time period includes the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women’s basketball tournaments, high school and college spring break periods and St. Patrick’s Day. A five-year review of crash data indicates both alcohol use and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes in March and early April.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is coordinating the effort which is supported by federal traffic safety funds.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re out rooting for your favorite team at the local sports bar or celebrating the luck of the Irish at the corner pub, if alcohol is part of the festivities make sure you designate a sober driver to get you home safely,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Extra officers will be out on patrol, and if you’re caught driving drunk you will be arrested.”

In 2012, 2,488 people were arrested for drunk driving during the NCAA tournament time period. Of those, 789 were arrested under the state’s high blood-alcohol content (BAC) law with BAC’s of .17 or higher. More than 400 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies during last year’s drunk driving crackdown.