State grants drunk driving crackdown

In 2012, 342 Michiganders died as a result of alcohol or drug related accidents, a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year. To combat those figures, the state is launching an end of summer drunk driving crackdown initiative starting this Friday.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning is teaming up with law enforcement agencies across the state to enforce the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign. A federal grant will bolster that effort by putting more officers on the road in Marquette, Houghton, Chippewa, and Delta counties, with one concentrated objective: to stop drunk drivers before they hurt themselves and other drivers.

“It allows an officer to go out on the road for a specified amount of time, about 4 to 6 hours, and not respond to any other calls,” explained Coordinator for the Michigan Office of Highway Safety and Planning Jamie Dolan. “So, they’re focused strictly on the drunk driver. If there’s a barking dog complaint or there’s something else, someone else takes that call and that officer only responds to a bad crash that’s in the area or something like that.”

“Obviously if you are drunk driving you’re going to be arrested. There is zero tolerance. You’ll be going to jail,” Captain David Lemire of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department said. “Along with going to jail, for however long you’re there, there are obviously court costs, fees, fines, and everything else that goes along with that. It’s just not worth it. It’s not a smart chance to take.”

Seatbelt checks will also be a hallmark of the statewide campaign, which runs through September 3rd.