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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 12/13/2010

Holiday crackdown on drunk driving

By Michael D. Bolden

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.

By Michael D. Bolden  | December 13, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  Driving, Traffic Safety  
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Comments

I think there's something unconstitutional about the enforcement of drunk driving laws.

Posted by: destewar | December 13, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

in the 20th century, 4.8 million americans died from drunk drivers. as 72% of murders here are committed by someone who is intoxicated on alcohol, so some 2.1mil americans died from these. and whether directly or indirectly, the over-consumption has led to the deaths by overdose or illnesses of some 65-70mln americans. and evenlast year, the deaths from drunk drivers after decades of trying to stop that were still about 16,000...

these are numbers at a holocaust level. if 16,000 americans had died last year in a terrorist attack; we would spend a trillion dollars combatting them in some far-off land.

clearly, prohibitionism never works, as we have seen since the end of prohibition with the demented and unconstitutional drugwar which required but never got and amendment to the constitution to delete our right to pursuit of happiness... and the british society of medicine just reported in the lancet journal that alcohol is multiples more dangerous than all the illegal drugs combined, for which american deaths in the past century totalled barely 350,000...

years ago, i read that automakers had a couple of ways to stop most drunks from starting their cars. one was a numerical puzzle on the door. however, a better method would be an instant breathalyzer. that could indeed be overcome by having someone unintoxicated breathe into it, but better than no preventative at all, eh?

Posted by: tazdelaney | December 13, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

in the 20th century, 4.8 million americans died from drunk drivers. as 72% of murders here are committed by someone who is intoxicated on alcohol, so some 2.1mil americans died from these. and whether directly or indirectly, the over-consumption has led to the deaths by overdose or illnesses of some 65-70mln americans. and evenlast year, the deaths from drunk drivers after decades of trying to stop that were still about 16,000...

these are numbers at a holocaust level. if 16,000 americans had died last year in a terrorist attack; we would spend a trillion dollars combatting them in some far-off land.

clearly, prohibitionism never works, as we have seen since the end of prohibition with the demented and unconstitutional drugwar which required but never got and amendment to the constitution to delete our right to pursuit of happiness... and the british society of medicine just reported in the lancet journal that alcohol is multiples more dangerous than all the illegal drugs combined, for which american deaths in the past century totalled barely 350,000...

years ago, i read that automakers had a couple of ways to stop most drunks from starting their cars. one was a numerical puzzle on the door. however, a better method would be an instant breathalyzer. that could indeed be overcome by having someone unintoxicated breathe into it, but better than no preventative at all, eh?

Posted by: tazdelaney | December 13, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

So is drunk driving ok again on January 4th?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 13, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

At least law enforcement can deploy "field sobriety" tests if the breathalyzer is refused. I like the fact that you can be arrested based on your behavior...even if you are under the legal limit. I think everyone should have a portable breathalyzer to really know their limit. The best policy is to NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE at all.

Posted by: jonforbis | December 16, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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