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New Orleans police crackdown on drinking and driving

According to experts, getting behind the wheel after a few drinks is more acceptable in Louisiana than it is in other states. The state's culture incorporates alcohol into many social occasions and, because of this, the state has the fourth-highest number of fatalities attributed to drinking and driving. Data shows that roughly half of the approximately 700 fatalities that occur in the state each year are associated with alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents. The national rate is much lower-about one in three fatalities are caused by impaired driving.

Due to these high rates as seen in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, police began to crackdown on those who choose to drink and drive. An official with the New Orleans police spoke about how drinking and driving is not a crime that can be predicted based on demographics or criminal history. People from all walks of life do it and, according to data, about 2 percent of drivers on the road at any given time are impaired.

During the past few years, law enforcement in the state has spent considerable amounts of money in order to decrease the number of people drinking and driving so that roads can become safer. The New Orleans Police Department used money to purchase vans that act as mobile sobriety-testing facilities. In Jefferson Parish, police can draw blood from drivers that refuse to participate in a breathalyzer test at DUI checkpoints.

The concentrated efforts of the state's law enforcement agencies against drinking and driving have certainly caused the number of arrests related to drinking and driving to increase. In the past four years, the number of such arrests in New Orleans has doubled. In the same timeframe, arrests in Jefferson Parish have tripled. St. Bernard and St. Charles parishes have seen increases in their numbers. State Police Troop B has almost doubled the number of arrests it has made for DWI.

Source: Times-Picayune, "DWI arrests are through the roof, but roads aren't getting much safer," Naomi Martin, Oct. 27, 2012

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