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Deputies will target drunken holiday drivers

Staff Reports

Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be targeted Friday through Monday as additional teams of deputies patrol Douglas County’s roadways.

Funded by a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety, extra officers are to concentrate efforts in reducing incidences of driving under the influence, said Sgt. Tom Mezzetta.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that every 20 minutes, someone loses their life due to an alcohol-related automobile accident. Drunk driving is the No. 1 leading cause of death for our youth, 16 to 24,” he said.

He said 266 people were arrested for driving under the influence in 2005.

So far this year, 63 people have been arrested for driving under the influence.

“The average blood-alcohol content of those arrested this year was .179 percent, or more than twice the legal limit of .08 for driving,” Mezzetta said.

First-time offenders face a jail sentence of up to six months and a $1,000 fine, he said.

Second offenses within a seven-year period increase the jail time to a minimum of 10 days.

Subsequent convictions carry mandatory prison sentences.

“The senseless loss of life and destruction of property can be avoided if drivers would refrain from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages,” Mezzetta said.

“Utilize public transportation or a designated driver when attending functions in which alcoholic beverages will be consumed,” he said.