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Archive for Saturday, October 26, 2002

Wichita steps up patrols in response to DUI deaths

October 26, 2002

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— Wichita Police, responding to a dramatic increase this year in alcohol-related traffic deaths, will step up efforts to curb drunken driving.

Of 32 traffic deaths in Wichita this year, 18 or 56 percent involved alcohol. Last year at this time, there were six.

"Obviously, we've got a problem with drunk drivers," Sgt. Allen Wolf said. "We're trying to get some of these drivers off the road before they injure themselves or someone else."

The increased enforcement was to begin late Friday night, with extra patrols on busy Kellogg Avenue on the city's east side. Of eight fatalities on Kellogg this year, Wolf said, seven were alcohol-related.

Five officers will patrol the area through early this morning, Wolf said, pulling over drivers who show signs of driving drunk. Those signs could include speeding, failing to stay in a single lane or failing to signal.

Officers will give field sobriety tests to drivers suspected of drinking, and those who fail will face breath tests. Those who register 0.08 percent blood alcohol the legal limit or more will be arrested.

In Kansas in 2001, 194 of the 494 fatal accidents involved drinking, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The enforcement exercise, which police call a "saturation patrol," will be the first of five in the next 12 months. There also will be three check lanes, in which police stay in one spot and pull over random cars to check for signs of drinking.

Other officers also will be paying extra attention to motorists, Wolf said.

A KDOT grant pays for the extra enforcement.

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