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September 3, 2010

ULM Police Department works with agencies to reduce drunk drivers over Labor Day weekend

The ULM Police Department is joining approximately 75 law enforcement agencies across Louisiana in an intensive Labor Day holiday crackdown on drunk drivers.

The “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest” enforcement campaign runs through Labor Day, which traditionally has been one of Louisiana’s most deadly holiday periods, according to state officials. During last year’s Labor Day holiday, 12 people were killed on Louisiana roads with five of those being in alcohol-involved incidents.

ULM Police Chief Larry Ellerman said officers will aggressively watch for impaired drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone they find driving while impaired regardless of age, vehicle type, or time of day.

“Our message is simple and unwavering. If we catch you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions,” he said. “The Labor Day crackdown will be active throughout the holiday, but we’ll be especially vigilant during high-risk nighttime hours when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads.”

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission funds the campaign through grants that pay overtime for officers to conduct special patrols and sobriety checkpoints. The commission is providing $1.2 million to law enforcement agencies across Louisiana to conduct more than 40,000 hours of overtime patrols, sobriety check points and other activities concentrated on DWI enforcement during the holiday period.

Although drunk driving is a nationwide problem, it is particularly serious in Louisiana, where statistics show almost half of all highway deaths involved alcohol. In 2009, 409 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic incidents in Louisiana, leading state legislators to substantially increase penalties for drivers arrested and convicted of drunk driving.

The ULM Police Department is also participating in the state’s largest-ever “no refusal” crackdown, a program that greatly reduces the number of DWI suspects who refuse to take a blood alcohol concentration test.

During these no refusal periods, judges are on standby to approve search warrants, based on probable cause, that authorize law enforcement officers to take blood samples from suspects who refuse to submit to the test. Most suspects submit to the test even before the actual warrant is issued.

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