Editorial: Safe and Sober effort saves lives

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

We applaud Albert Lea police officers and Freeborn County deputies for stopping 239 vehicles and arresting nine drivers for driving under the influence between Dec. 16 and 31 as part of their Safe and Sober campaign, designed to curb drunk driving during the holiday season.

Twenty-six speeding citations were also issued along with six citations for driving after revocation and four drug violations. Five other people were arrested for other violations and outstanding warrants.

The stepped up enforcement effort known as Safe and Sober is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s sad that more people don’t heed the messages about drinking and driving. When that doesn’t happen, enforcement needs to step in &045; before anyone gets hurt.

If the Safe and Sober effort prevents one death, it is all worth it.

The state’s legal alcohol concentration level was lowered to 0.08 in August, which brings even more drivers under the radar. People need to be aware of the amount of alcohol they can safely consume before driving. The impact of alcohol is determined by a number of factors: gender, weight, food consumed prior to drinking and pace of drinking.

But even motorists who test below the legal limit can be arrested if the officer believes alcohol has impaired their driving. If law enforcement can determine alcohol or drugs caused a person to make driving errors, no matter what the alcohol concentration level, he or she can be arrested.

We applaud local law enforcement for their attention to this project, stepping up enforcement in a time when no one wants to lose a loved one.