Holiday crackdown on drunk driving
The U.S. Department of Transportation says it is partnering with thousands of law enforcement agencies for a holiday crackdown on drunk driving.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off the effort Monday in Washington. Many states are adapting a "no refusal strategy" to fight drunk driving, where police obtain warrants from on-call judges for blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse breathalyzer tests.
"Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways," LaHood said in a statement announcing the "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest" campaign. "I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the 'no refusal' approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can't skirt the law and are held accountable."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) , a division of DOT, says a large number of people pulled over for drunk driving refuse breathalyzer tests in many states, including New Hampshire (81 percent); Massachusetts (41 percent); Florida (40 percent); Louisiana (39 percent); and Ohio (38 percent).
According to NHTSA, 753 people were killed in December 2009 in crashes that involved a drunk driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher -- above the legal limit in every state and the District of Columbia.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, several efforts are underway in the Washington region. Maryland, Virginia and the District are partnering in a "Checkpoint Strikeforce" campaign that urges people to report drunk drivers and designate drivers for their own travels.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will also kick off its holiday free ride program this week. From Friday to Jan. 1 people can request free taxi rides (with a $30 limit) by calling 1-800-200-TAXI from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekly. You have to be 21 or older to use the service.
The Maryland Highway Safety Office is also distributing promotional items to Christmas tree vendors and liquor stories to remind people of the dangers of drunk driving.
DOT said the national "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest" campaign is backed by $7 million TV and radio advertising that will run from Wednesday through Jan. 3.
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