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Police watching for impaired motorists
During this holiday weekend, drivers in Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield will notice more patrols and roadblocks as police seek to get impaired drivers off roads.
It's all part of the nationwide High Visibility Impaired Driving Enforcement Campaign, which continues through Labor Day.
Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter said, “The Rumford Police Department asks for voluntary compliance to keep the motoring public safe."
The program supports the national Drunk Driving, Over The Limit, Under Arrest campaign.
Although Rumford, Mexico and Dixfield police have already been conducting saturation patrols this summer, they will now join forces to conduct roadblocks on various streets at various times.
Funding for the effort was provided through a $4,860 grant that Rumford police received earlier this year from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety High Visibility Impaired Driving program.
The enhanced enforcement details couldn't come at a better time.
Rumford police have made 33 drunken-driving arrests this year. From July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, officers made 35 OUI arrests.
“So in eight months, right now we're at 33 already, so they're going up,” Carter said. “They are on the rise again and we are going to focus hard on this.”
In 2008-09, there were 50 OUI arrests. Carter attributed last year's decrease to the two bar closures and an increase in the usage of taxis.
“I will say that over the last several years, the increase in taxis has gone up, so people are making better decisions, so I'm hoping that that stems from increased education, stiffer penalties and our increased enforcement efforts,” he said. “So people are getting the message, because we used to be at 91 OUI arrests for a year, so things have certainly gotten better.”
Rumford police have been doing high visibility enforcement for at least 15 years.
“Our OUIs have come down a long ways, most likely because of the increased enforcement efforts and the grants themselves,” said Carter.
As always, Rumford police encourage the reporting of impaired drivers to law enforcement, as well as anonymous tips.
“The Rumford Police Department reminds everyone, 'Don't risk it. If you plan to drive, don't drink. Choose a sober designated driver before going out. Take a taxicab or ask a friend to drive you home. Spend the night where the activity is being held,'” noted Carter.