KSP Highway Safety Branch

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KSP Highway Safety Branch News Release

Enforcement Efforts Look to Reduce Holiday Season Fatalities

Date of News Release: 12/18/08

A public service announcement for the Holiday Season

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - The month of December is filled with joy in Kentucky as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve are celebrated. Friends and family will gather for holiday dinners, parties and other festivities.

Every year law enforcement officials make a plea to those who drink to stay off the roads. While drunk driving is a horrible crime any day of the year, statistics show that the holiday season is by far the worst period for crashes involving alcohol.

KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer indicated that twenty-five people died on Kentucky roadways between December 20th and December 31st last year.

"Life is too precious to be lost in a senseless tragedy that causes indescribable hardship," said Brewer. "KSP has a 'no-tolerance' policy. If you are caught driving under the influence, you will go to jail."

Brewer advised that KSP will be boosting road patrols and operating safety checkpoints statewide during the holiday period. For maximum effectiveness, Troopers will coordinate enforcement activities with local police to target high-risk areas and use radar and laser equipment to assist their efforts.

Even though Kentucky is experiencing a decline this year in traffic fatalities, 778 individuals have already been killed in motor vehicle crashes. The state reports that 167 of those deaths were from alcohol-related crashes.

Much has been done over the years to reduce impaired driving in Kentucky and other states - and more can be done. Prevention starts with responsible hosts who do not allow guests to leave a party and then drive impaired. It continues with aggressive law enforcement strategies and courts that impose stern sentences authorized by the Legislature.

Contrary to what many people think, most fatal crashes involving alcohol do not involve repeat offenders. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that in 2006, just seven percent of drivers in fatal crashes with high blood-alcohol levels (0.08 percent or higher) had previous alcohol-impaired driving convictions on their records.

Garrett Fowles, legal counsel for the City of Richmond, prosecutes Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases in Madison county. He warns that even first-time offenders will incur hefty penalties.

"In my experience in Madison County, a DUI subject with an alcohol level of .08 but less than .18 can expect to incur service sanctions including fines, court costs and fees totaling approximately $750.00 to $1,050.00," said Fowles.

"Additionally, first-time offenders receive a license suspension of ninety days and mandatory Alcohol and Drug Education (ADE) training," added Fowles.

Captain Tim Lucas, Commander of the Highway Safety Branch urges friends and family members to take the keys away from anyone who consumes alcohol and arrange for them to be driven home.

"In 2007, Kentucky law enforcement made 45,304 DUI arrests in the Commonwealth," remarked Lucas. "We need every citizen's help to keep impaired drivers off the road."

KSP established a toll-free number (1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state)) that citizens can call to report impaired or erratic drivers.

"It is our hope that every family will have a safe holiday season," said Lucas. "Please buckle up, slow down and drive sober."

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