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DUII in the crosshairs

Stringent anti-drunk driving campaign to start with sheriffs office Aug. 19

The Washington County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that it will join nearly 10,000 other law enforcement agencies nationwide to crackdown on impaired driving beginning Aug. 19 through Sept. 5. This initiative is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign.

The sheriff's office will be intensifying enforcement during the crackdown. Since twice as many alcohol-impaired accidents occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, patrol enforcement will peak during these high-risk times. First time offenders will be be put in jail with $5,000 bail and additional significant fines may also be imposed. A driver's license is likely to be suspended and there is a weekly charge for alcohol offender programs.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, approximately 1.5 million drivers nationally were arrested in 2009 for DUII. On average, the county sheriff's office makes about 1,200 DUII arrests each year.

According to NHTSA, in 2009 alone, 10,839 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was intoxicated at or above the legal limit. Driver's ages 21 to 24 years old made up the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.

It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or above.

According to the latest data, nearly a third of fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC above the legal limit with an average of one fatality every 48 minutes.