Drunk driving deaths down; police watching

Published 3:02 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

As with any holiday weekend, there comes a chance for more people to get behind the wheel after drinking during the long Labor Day weekend.

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced there were 35,092 people who were killed in traffic crashes in 2015.

Drunk driving was involved in 10,625 of those – or 29.2 percent.

This number is a drop from more recent, but NHTSA says there is more work to be done to protect the citizens on the roadways.

It was a 3.2 percent increase over 2014, when that number dropped below 10,000 for only a second time.

“We must do more to prevent these 100 percent preventable tragedies,” said MADD National President Colleen-Sheehey-Church. “Losing 10,265 people is completely unacceptable, and we must double down on our campaign to eliminate drunk driving.”

Alabama is one state that has ignition interlock laws, which was effective in July 2014. Last year, there was a 5 percent reduction in drunk driving fatalities.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders. Today, MADD issues a national call to action and challenges every state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense.

MADD also encourages every law enforcement agency to participate in NHTSA’s upcoming Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign to increase enforcement leading up to Labor Day Weekend.

“We know the end of summer is a time of increased celebrations, new starts and highway travel, and we thank our law enforcement heroes for stepping up enforcement during this exciting time of year. Too often, those activities are disrupted by the tragic consequences of drunk driving,” Sheehey-Church said. “Sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols work. They remove dangerous drivers and send a message to would-be drunk drivers that they will be caught.”

Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson said there are a few rules of the road this weekend for those who are out celebrating.

“If you plan to drink, don’t drive,” he said. “Andalusia Police Department will be out in full force this weekend working to stop any and all who choose to drive intoxicated.”

Hudson reminded residents that the legal alcohol limit in Alabama is .08 for drivers 21 and older and that the legal drinking age is 21.

Residents may also want to keep in mind that DUI convictions carry the following penalties, according to ALEA:

• First conviction: imprisonment of up to one year in municipal or county jail; a fine of $500 to $2,000, plus an additional $100 fine for impaired drivers trust fund; and a mandatory 90-day license suspension and DUI school;

• Second conviction: 48 consecutive hours, up to one year, or not less than 20 day community service; fine of $1,000 to $5,000, plus an additional $100 fine assessed for impaired drivers trust fund; one year driver’s license revocation.

• Third conviction: Mandatory 60-day imprisonment, which cannot be probated or suspended and up to one year in jail; fine of $2,000 to $10,000, plus an additional $100 fine assessed for impaired drivers trust fund; three-year driver’s license revocation;

• Fourth or subsequent conviction within five years: A class C felony, with imprisonment of one to 10 years; fine of $4,000 to $10,000; and driver’s license revocation for five years.