Police checkpoints added this weekend

Greg Barth and Greg Barth

The Bowling Green Police Department recently announced that it plans to participate in a nationwide program called “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” — an initiative aimed at cutting down on the number of intoxicated drivers

The program, which starts today and runs through September 12th, is the first to be held since all 50 states passed .08 blood alcohol content laws, and will combine highly visible law enforcement with a $14 million ad campaign.

“Depending on state and community, there will be checkpoints, roving patrols and undercover officers out in force,” Lieutenant Brad Biller of the BGPD said in a press release.

The BGPD said it would focus its efforts mainly on areas where there are several vehicles on the road with suspected drunk drivers, presumably referring to the downtown area around the bars.

“During periods of high traffic activity we’ll have an increased number of officers on the scene,” Biller said.

Officers will also be keeping a close eye on motorcycle riders as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data has shown intoxication rates for motorcyclists to be higher than that of other drivers.

“Officers will be making a special effort to apprehend impaired motorcyclists,” a BGPD press release stated.

Biller said that police presence would be more noticeable, and officers would be actively enforcing all laws.

The Lieutenant said the BGPD expects to see a higher number of arrests during the next couple of weeks, but not just because of the anti-drinking and driving effort.

“Across the board we expect to see more arrests. The first and last weeks of school we typically see the most activity because of the number of people in town.”

The city police department plans to work with the campus police department in the same manner they always do, but does not have anything specific planned to coincide with the “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” campaign.

“There is no coordinated program, but we’ll be working with them as always.”

The “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” crackdown has been held annually since 1999, but this is the first year it has taken place over the Labor Day period, and organizers hope this will help curtail the end-of-summer impaired driving problem.

Also, this is the first time it has been held since all 50 states have adopted uniform drunken-driving standards, and officials say this will strengthen the hand of law enforcement to arrest and prosecute drunk drivers to the fullest extent of the law.

The $14 million media campaign represents the largest amount of money ever spent on a program like this.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 17,401 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes last year, which represented 40 percent of the 43,220 people killed in traffic accidents.

The NHTSA also reported that 97 percent of Americans view drinking and driving as a serious threat to themselves and their families, and the majority support increased enforcement efforts.

Biller urges everyone to refrain from driving while intoxicated and said those who do can expect to face serious consequences.

“We encourage people not to drink and drive, and people who do will suffer the ramifications.”