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Campaign aim to stamp out impaired driving, save lives

The Southeast Regional DUI Task Force has been educating the public about heightened DUI enforcement that will be taking place starting Friday, March 16, and continuing through March 24, for the purpose of deterring impaired driving.

Participating agencies in the Regional Task Force include the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Fargo, Lisbon, University of North Dakota, Wahpeton, and West Fargo Police Departments, and the Cass, Ransom, Sargent Steele, and Richland County Sheriff Departments.

Quite a widespread effort with West Fargo Police officers committed to their role in diminishing the problem, according to Officer Jorge Gonzalez.

"The public may assume the Regional DUI Task Force is out only to arrest impaired drivers," Gonzales stated. "But, it's much more than that. It's also about bringing awareness to the public on the heightened enforcement, helping to prevent impaired driving from occurring at all."

Statistics from the 2010 North Dakota Crash Summary reveal that 53 percent of all fatal crashes involved alcohol, and that annually there are between 5,000 and 6,000 DUI arrests in the state with the average alcohol content at the time of the arrest at .17 - more than twice the legal limit.

Gonzalez described these numbers as totally unacceptable. "The Regional DUI Task Force will continue to perform these heightened patrols until we come to a point where zero lives are lost due to impaired driving crashes."

In addition to the task force effort, each of us as citizen's can also play a role in helping eradicate the presence of impaired drivers simply by refusing to be one of these individuals ourselves, and by assisting others who might be impaired either receive the help they need or see that they make it safely to their destination.