Searsport plans holiday OUI watch

Posted Dec. 14, 2008, at 7:33 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — The Police Department has announced the extension of its enforcement crackdown on drunken drivers through the holiday season.

The intensified “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit, Under Arrest” enforcement plan underscores the severity of the problem locally and across the nation, according to Police Chief Dick LaHaye.

“We will be out in force making sure drunk drivers are off the road,” LaHaye said. “No amount of good cheer will be able to save you from the consequences of drunk driving. If we catch you, we will arrest you. No exceptions. No excuses.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 1,000 people were killed in December 2007 in crashes that involved a drunken driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, which is the legal limit in every state and the District of Columbia.

All told for 2007, 12,998 fatalities occurred in crashes involving drunken drivers who were above the limit, compared with 13,491 the year before. LaHaye emphasized the critical role law enforcement can play in helping solve the problem.

“Even though we’ve seen nationwide reductions in drunk driving deaths since 2007, our work is far from over,” LaHaye said. “Too many people continue to suffer tragic injuries and the loss of a loved one as a result of this serious crime.”

Searsport police recommend designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk as just two of several simple steps that can be taken to avoid a tragic crash on an arrest for impaired driving.

LaHaye suggested that whenever people plan to consume alcohol they should hand over their car keys to a sober person before going out to party. If impaired, they should call a taxi or a friend or family member to get them home safely. People riding in vehicles should always wear seat belts and should promptly report drunken drivers to the police.

“Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk,” LaHaye said. “It is deadly serious and against the law. Violators will be spending money on bail, court lawyers and towing fees instead of buying holiday presents for loved ones. That’s not a great way to end the year.”

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