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Saturation patrols and DWI checkpoints increase

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According to a recent press release of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission DWI checkpoints and saturation patrols will be increased and intensified during the Holiday Season in an effort to curb drunk driving.

Here is a portion of the release for your consideration:

Scores of Louisiana law enforcement agencies are participating in the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign designed to save lives by keeping impaired drivers off the roads. The Dec. 16, 2011, to Jan. 2, 2012, campaign features DWI check points and saturation patrols focused on apprehending drunk drivers.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has provided special enforcement grants to dozens of Louisiana police departments and sheriffs’ offices. The agencies are using the grant funds to pay officers to work thousands of overtime hours dedicated to enforcing the state’s DWI laws. The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is coordinated nationwide by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which provides funds to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. The campaign also includes broadcast advertisements that warn motorists of the consequences and risks involved in driving while intoxicated.

“Since 2006, an average of 10 people per year have been killed in crashes over the Christmas holiday in Louisiana,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “Many of those deaths involved alcohol use, which tends to increase during holiday periods such as Christmas. The goal of Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is to save lives by raising awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving and arresting those who disobey DWI laws.”

Six of the seven highway fatalities over the Christmas holiday in Louisiana last year involved alcohol. For all of 2010, 43 percent of the crash deaths in the state involved alcohol. Over the past three years, Louisiana has experienced a significant decline in traffic deaths and injuries. Safety officials attribute the decline to a variety of factors, which include stronger laws and enforcement.

“It’s clear that stepped up enforcement coupled with high-publicity campaigns can result in reduced numbers of crash deaths and injuries,” LeBlanc said. “Eighteen people were killed in Christmas holiday crashes in Louisiana in 2007, more than double the 2010 rate. We’re making definite progress, but we must keep reminding motorists of the consequences of violating traffic safety laws.”

Louisiana laws provide significant penalties for impaired drivers, especially repeat offenders. One recent law imposes 15-day jail sentences on people caught driving while their licenses are suspended for a previous DWI violation. Another measure suspends for one-year licenses of suspects who refuse to take a blood alcohol concentration test. A 2008 law requires DWI offenders whose licenses are suspended to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for one year, if they are granted a “hardship license.” Ignition interlocks prevent people who have alcohol in their system from starting their vehicle. A first-offense DWI arrest can cost a driver more than $1,000 in fines, court costs, attorneys’ fees and increased insurance premiums.

In the event you are stopped at a checkpoint or by a saturation patrol and charged with an alcohol related offense call Harmon Smith and Vourvoulias at 504.680.4303 or 504.680.4319 for assistance.

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About Gary Smith

Gary is a founding member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C. Gary represents clients whose cases involve maritime and admiralty law and litigation. In addition to practicing law, Gary serves as a State Senator in the Louisiana Senate.Gary Smith's Google+ Profile

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