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Police promise extra scrutiny to apprehend impaired drivers

December 12, 2000

Police promise extra scrutiny to apprehend impaired drivers



While West Virginia motorists are out shopping for holiday gifts this month, they'd better watch out, because somebody besides old St. Nick will be paying attention to whether or not they're being naughty behind the wheel.

State police announced this week that as part of National Drunk and Drugged Prevention Month, they're paying special attention to drivers and how they're operating their motor vehicles during the holiday season.

A spokesman for the state police said that it seems that the incidents of impaired driving are up during this time of year, perhaps because there are a greater number of parties where intoxicating beverages and/or substances are available. Police say they want citizens to remember that while it may be a festive time or year, there are still consequences for someone who gets behind the wheel with their abilities impaired - or allows someone else to do so.

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Last year in West Virginia there were 130 fatal alcohol-related crashes, according to the Gary Edgell, the state police superintendent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show those crashes led to 145 deaths, which means that 36.6 percent of the state's 395 auto-crash fatalities were alcohol-related.

It is possible to have a holiday party that doesn't depend on alcohol or other intoxicating substances to fuel the fun. According to the Safe Party Guide put out by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, good hosts invite compatable people to parties, so guests won't feel lonely or excluded, which makes them more likely to drink to excess.

Get groups who come together to choose a designated driver early, or make arrangements for alternative transportation, like taxi cabs.

Finally, about 90 minutes before the party ends, shut down the bar, serve coffee and dessert and make a judgment, if need be, on who needs to be told they shouldn't drive. It may be tense or even unpleasant, but nowhere near as awful as hearing the news that someone you've socialized with recently has been injured or killed in an auto wreck.

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