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New DUI Crackdown Focuses On ‘Professional’ Drunk Drivers

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LANSING (WWJ) - Michigan is kicking off a campaign aimed at curbing drunken driving.

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) said the campaign pits the tactics drunk drivers use to avoid detection against specially trained, expert law enforcement officers. The result? Insight into what a drunk driver thinks while heading home and a harsh reality check: “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The campaign was developed after holding focus groups earlier this year to gain insight into why young men drive drunk despite potentially stiff penalties, including jail time. The OHSP said men were targeted since they represented more than 80 percent of drinking drivers in alcohol-involved fatal crashes. Of those male drivers, more than 40 percent were 21 to 34 years old.

The OHSP said most troubling was that some young men in the focus groups referred to themselves as “professional” drunken drivers — claiming they were better drivers when drunk. Those participants reportedly spoke about tactics and strategies, including taking side streets and not wearing a hat, to help them “outsmart” law enforcement officers.

“Michigan law enforcement officers are experts at catching drunk drivers. They know all the tricks and have heard all the excuses,” Michael L. Prince, director of OHSP, said in a release. “If you drive drunk you will be arrested, so make the smart decision and find a safe and sober ride home.”

The campaign, which includes TV ads and billboards alerting motorists of enforcement patrols in their area, comes as nearly 160 law enforcement agencies in 26 counties begin stepped-up drunken driving patrols through Sept. 3 during the crackdown.

Seat belt enforcement is also planned in Genesee, Kalamazoo, Kent, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Saginaw, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties — which were selected based on high crash and fatality rates for unbuckled motorists.

For a list of planned enforcement times, dates and locations, visit www.michigan.gov/ohsp.

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