State police warn basketball fans not to drink and drive - KPTV - FOX 12

State police warn basketball fans not to drink and drive

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Michigan State Police are warning March Madness fans not to drink and drive. Police are asking fans enjoying the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments to make sure to designate a sober driver if they are drinking alcoholic beverages.

Law enforcement agencies in 26 counties will continue stepped-up drunk driving enforcement through April 8. The enforcement initiative began March 13 and is being paid for with federal traffic safety funds administered by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).

A five-year review of crash data indicates both alcohol use and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes in March and early April. This time period includes the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, high school and college spring break periods and St. Patrick's Day.

"Michigan law enforcement officers are specially trained to identify and arrest drunk drivers," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. "A motorist's best defense is to designate a sober driver."

Officers from 155 agencies including Genesee and Saginaw counties are participating in the crackdown. In 2012, 2,488 people were arrested for drunk driving during the NCAA tournament time period. Of those, 789 were arrested under the state's high blood-alcohol content (BAC) law with BAC's of .17 or higher. More than 400 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies during last year's drunk driving crackdown.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a 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.

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