Increased Police Enforcement to continue through Labor Day

Jess Hodge

The Grand Valley Police Department teamed up with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and both Kent and Ottawa County to host the “Drive Sober or get Pulled Over” campaign. The event, which started on Aug. 21 and will go until Sept. 7, allows police departments to mobilize more patrol units to enforce drunk-driving laws.

The event is geared toward cracking down on drunk driving and seat belt violations. There are officers from more than 150 police departments in Michigan which are participating in the campaign.

GVPD and MOHSP have been partners since early 2000, allowing them to identify certain days, events, weather and changes in the general community that result in higher numbers of impaired drivers. They have noticed over the years that Labor Day weekend has a large probability of increased drunk-drivers and/or drivers not buckling up.

GVPD is looking to be proactive in reducing crime in and around campus.

“Studies have shown that alcohol consumption leads to larceny, malicious destruction of property and assaulted behavior,” GVPD Capt. Brandon DeHaan said. “That assaulted behavior can be either physical and even sexual.”

The GVSU police department is also focusing on underage drinking. They obtain grant money for their Youth Alcohol Enforcement so they can more strictly enforce underage drinking.

“When certain dates or events happen, we can mobilize our Youth Alcohol Enforcement grant,” DeHaan explained. “For example, we mobilized it last Saturday when move-ins started.”

GVPD has identified the football games as having a high likelihood of underage drinking. DeHaan said they will have to mobilize the grant again on Sept. 3 for the first football game of the season.

GVSU is also concerned with the safety of its students and therefore puts on seminars to talk to them about the consequences of drinking, especially binge drinking.

“We have our alcohol awareness seminars that we put on, often for the incoming freshmen,” DeHaan said. “They learn about the truth, lies and consequences of drinking.”

By definition, binge drinking is when a person’s blood alcohol content surpasses 0.08 in one sitting. This normally takes about four drinks for women and five drinks for men. Binge drinking is not only dangerous for one’s physical health; it can also be detrimental toward mental health.

The increased patrol and enforcement is to help keep students, families and others on the road safe, not just to write tickets. During the Labor Day holiday in 2014, there were six fatal car crashes, five of which involved alcohol.

It is illegal in Michigan to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08. However, officers reserve the right to arrest someone at any BAC level if they believe the driver is impaired.

“Wrapping up the summer and starting the school year should be full of possibilities, not tragedy from preventable drunk driving crashes,” Michael L. Prince said in a news release on Aug. 21.

Prince, director of Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, tells people to “be on notice” for the extra patrols and stepped-up enforcement of these laws. There will be seat belt enforcement zones along Michigan roads that are marked with large signs.

In addition to seminars, GVSU also offers Alcohol Campus Education Services, better known to students as ACES. ACES is a program that helps students understand what one drink is, how to party smart, how to help a friend who drinks too much and many other educational services.