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UW-Eau Claire Police to join 'Booze and Belts' campaign

December 6, 2012
 CASE
 UPolicelogo
 ZeroWisc

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Police will participate in the statewide "Booze and Belts" campaign Dec. 7-16 to motivate motorists to drive sober and buckle up. At the same time, the UW-Eau Claire's Center for Alcohol Studies and Education will conduct an informational campaign on campus to emphasize the message to students to find a sober ride home if they've been drinking.

"Fatal and serious injury traffic crashes can turn a joyous holiday season into a time of tragedy," said Sgt. Joel Field of the UW-Eau Claire Police. "To prevent this, UW-Eau Claire Police will be out in force during the Booze and Belts mobilization, patrolling around-the-clock to arrest drunken drivers and ticket unbuckled motorists."

During Booze and Belts and throughout the year, law enforcement agencies are cracking down on impaired and unbuckled motorists. Last year in Wisconsin, there were approximately 35,000 convictions for drunken driving and nearly 85,000 convictions for failure to fasten safety belts. The holiday season can be a particularly dangerous time on the road. During December 2010, 30 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the nation involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

"If you drive drunk, you are seriously jeopardizing your life and the lives of others on the road," Field said. "Those who are lucky enough to avoid a crash still risk arrests, fines and possible jail time."

"We also take safety belt enforcement seriously," Field added. "Too many drivers and passengers are seriously injured or killed while being ejected from their vehicles or tossed around violently inside them during a crash."

The Booze and Belts mobilization is part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths to zero in Wisconsin.

CASE will support the Booze and Belts efforts with educational messages across campus reminding students that the holidays are a high-risk time for accidents involving an impaired driver.

"While students are home celebrating the holidays with their families and friends, we want them to remember some simple steps they can take to stay safe and out of trouble," said Peggy O'Halloran, CASE director. "It can be as easy as planning ahead, using a taxi or public transportation to get home, or calling a sober friend or family member for a ride."

O'Halloran indicates that at UW-Eau Claire, most students make the right choice and avoid driving after drinking. "In 2012, 16 percent of students reported driving after drinking in the past year," O'Halloran said. "We have seen this number decrease every year since 2002."

"We hope that the information we provide this month, combined with the knowledge of increased enforcement by University Police encourages all students to make the responsible choice to drive sober," she added.

For more information on the Booze and Belts mobilization, contact Sgt. Joel Field at fieldja@uwec.edu or 715-836-2222.

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JF/OJ/DW

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