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University Police to join 'Booze and Belts' effort for traffic safety

RELEASED: Dec. 7, 2009

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EAU CLAIRE — To keep the holiday season from turning tragic, police officers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be out in force to prevent needless traffic deaths from drunken driving and increase awareness of the mandatory safety belt law.

"Booze and Belts" is a statewide prevention effort taking place from Dec. 7-15. Last year in Wisconsin there were more than 41,000 drunken driving convictions and nearly 70,000 convictions for failure to fasten safety belts.

"During this mobilization and throughout the year, our goal is to save lives and prevent injuries, not to write more safety belt tickets or make more drunken driving arrests," said University Police Sgt. Chris Kirchman. "We hope that people will voluntarily decide to buckle up and drive sober. But if they don't, our intensified enforcement will increase their risk of getting caught."

With Wisconsin's new primary enforcement law, officers may stop and ticket drivers and passengers who are not wearing safety belts, even if the officers do not observe another violation.

"We could end the year with the lowest number of traffic fatalities since the 1940s," said Kirchman. "But we must continue our traffic safety enforcement until we attain our ultimate goal of zero preventable traffic deaths in Wisconsin."

For more information, contact Sgt. Chris Kirchman at 715-836-2222 or kirchmca@uwec.edu.

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RD/DW

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