Law enforcement gears up for holiday traffic
“Then they gave me fair warnin’ ” From “Hard Headed Me” by Roger Miller
By James Beaty
Senior Editor
McAlester police are warning motorists that they once again plan to be out in force during the upcoming holiday season.

It’s part of nationwide campaign called “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”

Nationally, drunk drivers were involved in a high number of accidents during last year’s holiday period.

“During the month of December in 2008, 889 people were killed in accidents that involved a drunk driver or a motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher,” said McAlester Police Det. Capt. Don Hass, referring to national statistics.

The campaign is set to begin today and extend through both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

“We have 13 officers that are going to be working overtime between Dec. 16 and Jan. 2,” Hass said.

“They’re going to be targeting impaired drivers to see if we can’t bring these numbers down.”

“We’re going to be doing checkpoints and watching for people driving left of center.”

With the city in a budget crunch, Hass said the overtime for the officers is not coming from the city of McAlester, but from a $30,000 national grant.

The local campaign is part of the “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” program organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While police are ready to write tickets and take offenders to jail to get them off the streets, Hass said they would much prefer for people to simply not drink and drive — which is the entire reason for the campaign in the first place.

“We hope to get through this and not take anybody to jail,” Hass said.

If people are going to drink during the holiday season, “We hope they will read this and get a designated driver,” he said.

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