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MY WORD: Sobering campaign has important point

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By Hart Megibben

Many of you may have noticed the recent media blitz sponsored by nearly 10,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide aimed at impaired driving known as “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

This campaign, which officially kicked off on Aug. 19, continues through this Labor Day.

The statistics demonstrating the need for this type of campaign are not very difficult to locate.

While data shows that alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities across the country have declined by almost 8 percent in the last year, the numbers are still extremely high.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 nearly 12,000 people died in crashes where a driver or motorcycle rider was at or over the legal limit.

Also in 2009, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 38 percent of all motor fatalities throughout the Labor Day holiday.

While national campaigns such as the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” are not uncommon, it is my experience on a local level that impaired driving enforcement has increased dramatically just over the last few years.

Thanks to stepped up enforcement by law enforcement agencies serving Shelby County in 2010, the number of people convicted of driving under the influence increased from 282 in 2009 to 539 in 2010, according to the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky.

Whether this statistic demonstrates that more people are driving under the influence here locally or whether it merely reflects that more of those doing so are being caught is unclear.

Based upon my experience as a prosecutor, I sincerely believe it is the latter.

The one conclusion that this statistic does demonstrate is that in Shelby County our law enforcement officers have been cracking down on impaired drivers all year round.

Those of us here in the Shelby County Attorney’s Office will continue to support those agencies in that pursuit in an effort to make this a better and safer community.

 

Hart Megibben is the Shelby County attorney.