"Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest" - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

"Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest"

Lawton_Labor Day approaches, and police say that in the last three days of summer they see more deaths by drunk driving than the entire season.  So, law enforcement officers from thirteen different local areas have teamed up for a national DUI mobilization over the next two weeks - "Drunk Driving:  Over the Limit, Under Arrest." 

More than 13,000 people in Oklahoma died from alcohol related accidents in 2006, and most of those occurred during holiday weekends.  The government is spending $11 million in 2008 to get the word out all over the country - police will have zero tolerance for driving under the influence. 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), the Marlow Police Department (MPD), the Lawton Police Department (LPD), and ten other agencies agree that drunk driving is one of the United States' deadliest crimes, and that they will be out in full force over the next two weeks to arrest anyone driving over the legal limit.

OHP Trooper Chance Slater says over Labor Day weekend, a lot of people will be out making the most of their final days of summer - but, they won't be taking any excuses.  "It's all one big organization to fight this deadly problem," he says.  "The more agencies that are out there doing routine patrol and making arrests for people that are over the limit, the more that we get done."

LPD Captain Ralph Szatkowski says that he knows first hand the pain caused by drunk driving - his brother-in-law was killed by a drunk driver.  "Her family still grieves about that - and it's been almost twenty years," he says.  "The hardest part of my job is making next of kin notification, letting them know that a loved one is not coming home."

Officers will be adding extra patrols over the next two weeks - at all hours of the night - and setting up checkpoints throughout the city.  However, they aren't only looking for four-wheeled offenders.  Police say they also are cracking down on drunk motorcyclists.  Szatkowski says that over 50% of motorcycle fatalities are DUI related.  "If you're impaired, whether that be alcohol or drugs, it'll affect your balance," he says.

Officers say they hope that the extra patrols and presence in Texoma communities will make drivers aware of the dangers of drunk driving.  Fletcher Police Chief Jon Shepard says he is optimistic about this year's campaign.  "I hope to make no DUI arrests at all," he says.  "If the word gets out and people believe it, then they'll take this message to heart."

The campaign runs through the Labor Day holiday, but officers say they will be on the lookout for anyone under the influence, even after the holiday weekend.  Don't drink and drive.  Call a cab, or spend the night where you are.

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