By Tasha Jones
FACT: Impaired driving is a chronic problem that will affect one in three Americans in their lifetime. Nearly 42,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year, and about 16,000 of these are alcohol-related. Every day of the year, alcohol-related crashes account for one death every 33 minutes and one person injured every 2 minutes.
According to the Kansas Drunk Driving Prevention Office, on an average day in Kansas six persons are killed or injured in alcohol-related crashes and 50 are arrested for DUI. Alcohol-related crashes in Kansas cost its citizens nearly $500 million annually in lost productivity, medical costs, property damage, and other expenditures. That doesn't include the many millions of tax dollars spent yearly on DUI enforcement, prosecution, intake, incarceration, monitoring, and drivers' license hearings/suspensions and administrative costs. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Bureau of Traffic Safety states that, "if you are involved in an alcohol-related crash, you are eight times more likely to be killed, and two-and-a-half times more likely to be injured, than if you are involved in a non-alcohol related crash."
FA CT: Since the beginning of FY 09 Fort Riley has experienced 170 DUIs which includes Soldiers, Family members and DA civilians. 93 DUIs or 55% have been off-post and 77 or 45% have been on-post. The age groups with the most DUIs are as follows: 21-26 yrs, 88 DUIs; 27-32 yrs, 33 DUIs; and the 17-20 yrs, 25 DUIs. However, leader engagement at all levels has helped lower the FY 09 DUI rate from an average of 22 per month to 14 per month.
FACT: Kansas has zero tolerance for drivers under 21 years old who choose to drink and get behind the wheel. Drivers under 21 who are found to have a BAC of .02 or greater face a 30-day suspension of driving privileges followed by a 330-day period of restricted privileges. Also, any person under 21 convicted of consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages will have his/her driver's license suspended for 30 days under Kansas law.
In Kansas, the DMV regulations states that having a driver's license, means you have given advance permission, or "implied consent" to testing for the presence of alcohol should you be stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of DUI. Refusing to test is a separate offense from DUI. Even if you are later acquitted of the DUI charges, you will still undergo a license suspension of up to one year for refusing to take the test. If you are convicted of DUI and refused the test at the time of your arrest, you may be required to pay a higher fine and may have your license suspended for a longer period.
The Kansas Highway Patrol has some ideas to help keep impaired drivers off the streets and highways:
•Always have a "designated driver" if you are with friends and you know there will be drinking
•Leave your vehicle and use a taxi or a safe ride program
•If possible, make arrangements to spend the night where you are rather than risk driving after you've been drinking
DID YOU KNOW? If you are convicted of DUI and are carrying a child younger than 14 as a passenger, your mandatory incarceration time will increase by one month.
The best protection against an impaired driver is the wearing of your seat belt and buckling up your Family and passengers. Drunk drivers can be found driving at any hour, any place. Be safe. Don't Drink and Drive. For more information please visit http://www.dmv.org/ks-kansas/automotive-law/dui.php and http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/index.shtml.