3-week Labor Day crackdown underway

KINGMAN - The Governor's Office of Highway Safety with law enforcement and traffic-safety partners will participate in the annual national driving under the influence crackdown.

The increased enforcement began Friday and will run through Labor Day.

"Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the Labor Day holiday weekend - and every time you get behind the wheel, whether it's a vehicle or boat - make sure the driver is sober or find another safe mode of transportation," GOHS Director Richard Fimbres said in a news release. "For those who don't make the right, safe decision, law enforcement will be out in force to remove these dangerous, deadly drivers from Arizona's roadways and waterways."

Last year, the campaign resulted in 858 DUI arrests, including 323 for extreme DUI. There were 80 impaired drivers under the age of 21.

The enforcement doesn't end on the road. The GOHS and the Arizona Game and Fish Department have created a joint campaign to educate motorists and boaters about the dangers of operating under the influence.

This focus brings to light the fact that nearly 50 percent of fatalities on Arizona's waterways involve alcohol.

"Impaired driving and boating are serious offenses, and perpetrators should expect the consequences to be equally serious," Gov. Janet Napolitano said. "It makes sense for Arizonans to be responsible and designate drivers for both motor vehicles and watercraft."

On the waterways, 357 boaters were arrested statewide in 2007 for operating under the influence.

"Boating while impaired continues to be a critical problem and a high-priority target enforcement objective for watercraft law enforcement officers," said Mike Senn, assistant director of field operations for AGFD.

Due to recent legislation, penalties for boating while impaired almost mirror those of driving under the influence, including mandatory jail time for all offenders.

As part of the increased enforcement, a series of public service announcements in English and Spanish called "OUI/DUI Working Together" will be aired this month.