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Archive for Saturday, June 24, 1995

CHECKPOINTS TARGET DRUNK DRIVING

June 24, 1995

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Law enforcement agencies and MADD hope to reduce the number of drunken-driving accidents.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and the state's law enforcement agencies are joining forces to crack down on drunken driving in Kansas.

MADD has designated Wednesday through July 5 as National Sobriety Checkpoint Week.

The organization is encouraging increased use of sobriety checkpoints as a means of deterring and detecting alcohol-impaired drivers and promoting seat-belt use.

"It wouldn't surprise me if folks out traveling in our state do come across some checkpoint next week," said Sgt. Terry Maple of the Kansas Highway Patrol. "It's a good opportunity for law enforcement."

Maple said drivers surveyed in the checkpoint lines indicate they favor them as a way to keep the highways safe.

"People are glad to know we're out there trying to remove alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers from our highway," Maple said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on a weekend evening, about 5 percent of the drivers on the road are driving with an alcohol concentration above the legal limit.

Maple said more information on the checkpoints is expected to be released next week at a news conference featuring the governor, MADD officials and state transportation and law enforcement officials.

Lt. Ed Brunt of the Lawrence police department and Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said their agencies haven't yet been contacted about the checkpoints.

"Obviously, we're going to keep our normal patrols out looking for drunken drivers," Brunt said.

That includes the normal patrol units as well as the special Alcohol Safety Awareness Project units, which are specifically designated to apprehend drunken drivers, he said.

Diane Poot, MADD state chairwoman, said the sobriety checks help save lives by reducing the threat of drunken-driving accidents.

State figures show that alcohol-related injuries from traffic accidents in the state have dropped overall in the past five years, although they have increased slightly since 1992.

Statewide, drunken driving arrests decreased from 22,569 in 1992 to 19,796 in 1993, according to Jim Schaller, research analyst for the bureau of traffic safety at KDOT.

The Douglas County Sheriff's office released figures that show sheriff's officers made 119 drunken driving arrests in 1993, 164 in 1994 and 130 so far this year.

No drunken-driving arrest information was available late Friday from Lawrence police.

Statewide, the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents across the state has dropped from 3,572 in 1993 to 3,554 in 1994. Alcohol-related fatalities across the state have increased from 92 in 1993 to 109 in 1994.

KDOT figures show that in Douglas County, there were 183 alcohol-related crashes in 1990; 183 in 1991; 189 in 1992; 198 in 1993; and 162 in 1994. Fatality accidents in the county due to alcohol were as follows: one in 1990; six in 1991; four in 1992; four in 1993; and two in 1994.

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