Across the nation, the annual "Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest" winter holiday crackdown has begun, and will continue through Jan. 3.
The effort involves thousands of law enforcement agencies across the nation, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced. LaHood also highlighted the new "No Refusal" strategy that a number of states are employing to put a stop to drunk driving. Through the "No Refusal" strategy, law enforcement officers are able to quickly obtain warrants from "on call" judges in order to take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.
"Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways," said Secretary LaHood. "I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the ‘No Refusal’ approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can’t skirt the law and are held accountable."
According to DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2005 there was a 27 percent breath test refusal rate among drivers in Kansas. The latest NHTSA data shows that states that have adopted "No Refusal" programs report more guilty pleas, fewer trials and more convictions.
"When it comes to drunk driving, we cannot afford to have repeat offenders," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "The ‘No Refusal’ strategy helps support prosecutions and improves deterrence, which means fewer drunk drivers on the road. I want to remind everyone this holiday season: if you’re over the limit, you’re under arrest. So please, for safety’s sake, find a designated driver or take a taxi if you are under the influence."
It is illegal in Kansas to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher, yet 154 of the 386 traffic fatalities in 2009 were due to alcohol-impaired driving.