Fans cheering for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament are reminded to enjoy the madness with a designated driver – otherwise they will foul out as police step up impaired driving patrols.
Law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police in 26 counties are taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign through April 7.
To help promote driving safety, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is partnering with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) to distribute basketball-themed drink coasters with a designated driver-related message. Patrons at more than 1,100 MLBA member locations will use the coasters as they root for their favorite teams.
“You don’t need to be a star basketball player to make a nice assist this tournament,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Just remember to pass the keys and make the right choices about getting home safely because law enforcement officers are experts at stopping and arresting drunk drivers.”
In 2014, 2,279 people in Michigan were arrested for drunk driving during the NCAA tournament time period. Of those, 691 were charged under the state’s high blood-alcohol content (BAC) law with BACs of .17 or higher. More than 450 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies during last year’s stepped up drunk driving patrols.
OHSP is coordinating the enforcement effort which is supported with federal funds. Extra patrols are planned in Allegan, Berrien, Calhoun, Chippewa, Delta, Eaton, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Houghton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Marquette, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw, Wayne and Wexford counties.
In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.
Grant-funded impaired driving enforcement is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.