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Drive sober or get pulled over

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:02 PM

Officers from 155 police departments across the state will participate in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which continues through Labor Day.

"Everyone should be on notice that law enforcement officers are serious about stopping and arresting drunk drivers," said Michael Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, during a press conference outside the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department in West Olive.

This year's campaign features a rolling billboard showing the front half of a police car connected to the back half of a taxicab. The caption underneath says: “Been drinking? Choose your ride.”

Prince said officers want people to realize that a ride in the police car costs between $10,000 and $15,000, when factoring in legal fees and other costs of a conviction, while a ride in a taxicab may only be $20.

When drunk drivers get behind the wheel, they take everyone's lives into their hands, Ottawa County Sheriff Gary Rosema said.

"If you choose to drive drunk, law enforcement officers will choose your ride," he added.

Scheduled high-visibility enforcement for impaired driving and seatbelt use will take place in 26 Michigan counties in the next couple of weeks. The impaired driving crackdown in Grand Haven starts at 9 tonight.

During last year’s enforcement effort — held over the same time period — police in Michigan arrested 344 drunk drivers, and issued 4,587 seatbelt and child restraint citations.

Officials noted that in 2012, 342 people died in Michigan as a result of alcohol and/or drug-related crashes — a 7 percent increase from 2011.

Prince noted that someone in the United States dies in an impaired driving-related crash every 53 minutes.

Rosema said first-time drunken driving offenders can get up to 93 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. The jail time and fines increase with a higher blood-alcohol content.

A person is considered drunk if his blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or higher.

More information is available at michigan.gov/msp and nhtsa.gov.

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