SIKESTON - In 2000, in Missouri, 423 people were killed and another 14,300 were injured in an estimated 44,600 traffic crashes involving a legally intoxicated driver.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is tired of seeing innocent lives lost at the hands of impaired drivers and in a continuous effort to make the roadways safer, the law enforcement agency is taking part in a nationwide project.
From Dec. 20 to Jan. 5, statewide, the Highway Patrol will put into action an Impaired Driving Mobilization which was created in an effort to deter impaired driving.
National mobilizations are conducted in partnership with criminal justice and traffic safety partners in all 50 states.
"Different law enforcement agencies in the state of Missouri, including the Highway Patrol, are participating in this national Impaired Driving Mobilization over three time periods over the next year: Dec. 20 to Jan. 5, June 27 to July 13; and Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, 2004," said Lt. Jim McNiell of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Troop E.
"Troop E of the Highway Patrol will be having two dates, Dec. 28 and Jan 4. We'll be targeting the four counties with the highest alcohol-related crashes based on 2001 statistics, which is Butler, Cape Girardeau, Dunklin and Scott counties," he said. "The goal is to build on the momentum and the hard work already taking place in communities throughout America to stop impaired driving and save lives."
The impaired drivers law enforcement agencies will watch for those under the influence of drugs and alcohol, not wearing seatbelts or improper use or lack of child restraint seats and careless and improper driving.
According to statistics, for one of every 170 miles driven in Missouri 2000, a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more sat behind the wheel.
Police in Missouri reported 23,257 crashes involving a driver or pedestrian with a BAC of .01 or more. An estimated total of 46,100 crashes in Missouri involved alcohol which killed 511 and injured an estimated 15,600 people.
And it's expensive. Alcohol-related crashes in Missouri cost the public an estimated $2.7 billion in 2000, including $1.1 billion in monetary costs and almost $1.6 billion in quality of life losses.
Reports indicate alcohol-related crashes are deadlier and more serious than other crashes. People other than the drinking driver paid $2.8 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill.
Missouri already has many impaired driving laws, including administrative license revocation which allows police or driver licensing authorities to revoke a driver's license swiftly and automatically for refusing or failing a BAC test.
The Zero Tolerance law makes it illegal for persons under age 21 to drive with a positive BAC and the .08 BAC law lowers BAC limits to .08.
"On Dec. 28 and Jan. 4 Troop E will be putting additional manpower out on the highways in our four targeted counties," McNiell said.
"We're not ignoring the other counties, we're just concentrating our efforts on the four with the highest alcohol-related crash incidents and taking the appropriate law enforcement action. The goal of this Impaired Driver Mobilization is to decrease the number of alcohol-related crashes that traditionally occur during these time periods.
"Troop E of the Highway Patrol will have a no tolerance approach to driving violations so that we will have the safest and best holiday we've ever had," he said.