Officers will be scattered throughout the streets of Murray over the next few weeks to make sure people who have been consuming alcohol are not behind the wheel.
The Murray Police Department is participating in the national DUI awareness program, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, next week while Murray State is using AlcoholEdu, an alcohol educational program for first-year students.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over initiative is using a national ad campaign with the slogan, “They’ll see you before you see them,” to warn drivers of the consequences of driving intoxicated. The program requires local law enforcement to be out in increased numbers and to be more visible during the Labor Day holiday period.
Sgt. Dave Howe, public relations director for the Murray Police Department, said drunk driving is simply not worth the risk and officers will be looking for violators.
“Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober or get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent,” Howe said. “By joining this nationwide effort, we will make Murray’s roadways safer for everyone throughout the Labor Day period”.
According to a press release from the Murray Police Department, the police will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone caught driving impaired.
The Murray Police Department plans on having up to 12 roadblocks spread across the city.
“On average there is one alcohol impaired driving-related fatality every 53 minutes across America,” Howe said. “But this tragic loss of life can be reduced if we get impaired drivers off our roadways”.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average, 138 people die during Labor Day weekend in car accidents involving alcohol.
Approximatly 10,000 people die yearly due to alcohol involved accidents.
Local authorities want to emphasize the other consequences that students face with a DUI charge.
Howe said he wanted to remind students that violators face jail time, loss of their drivers licenses and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court cost, lost time at work and the potential loss of his or her job.
“Obviously we want to remind everyone that it is illegal to drive impaired and we hope the campaign will remind people that if they plan on drinking, to never get behind the wheel,” Howe said. “But if someone does choose to drive impaired, we will arrest them. No warnings. No excuses.”
Murray State, with money allocated by the city of Murray, is making an effort, with AlcoholEdu, to lower the number of drunk drivers on the road by educating first-year students on alcohol consumption.
Judy Lyle, interim associate director of Health Services and chair of the coalition for Alcohol Risk Education, said according to the AlcoholEdu survey, the majority of incoming students of various classifications do not consume alcohol.
More than 1,400 students completed the survey out of the nearly 1,800 that were sent out.
“When students talk about behavior and attitude in the first survey, that’s precollege,” Lyle said. “That information derives the pathway they will be taking”.
Lyle said the information gathered from the surveys will help direct the right information to the right types of students whether they are heavy drinkers, casual drinkers or abstain from drinking altogether.
“Obviously we’d like them to not be drinking,” Lyle said. “We are here to keep students safe.”
Story by Jesse Nelson, Contributing writer