Overtime granted for Labor Day drunk driving patrols

Aug. 14—TRAVERSE CITY — Overtime patrols from the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office are working with the specific intent of discouraging drunken driving through Labor Day weekend.

The sheriff’s office received between $20,000 and $30,000 from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning to help pay for overtime shifts from Aug. 10 to Sept. 4, according to an OHSP statement.

With more officers patrolling the highways, Lt. Brian Giddis said, the hope is to catch more drunken drivers, get them off the roads and keep the community safer.

“This campaign, from now going through Labor Day, will be for impaired driving enforcement primarily, but they’ll be stopping for everything they can find that is dangerous,” Giddis said. “But they’ll really be looking for drunk driving because, over the holiday, it seems to be more prevalent.”

In 2022, data from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center showed 9,331 alcohol-involved crashes with 322 fatalities and 2,452 drug-involved crashes with 249 fatalities in the state.

According to 2018-2022 data for the Labor Day weekend, 40 drivers were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Michigan each year — with a third of them alcohol-impaired at the time, according to the same data set.

In Michigan, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 or higher.

“Do designated driving and abstain if you can from alcohol and drug use and driving,” Giddis said. “Keep ’em separated — that’s the bottom line of it.”

This isn’t the first time the sheriff’s office has participated in this program, but it is especially important now because of staffing shortages that the department is facing, he said.

Funding for this campaign comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Administration. The sheriff’s office application for the 2024 cycle of this grant has already been submitted.

“This should be a time for friends and family to enjoy the final days of summer,” Katie Bower, director of Michigan OHSP, said in a prepared statement. “Driving impaired is a choice.

“We are encouraging people to make the right choice and find a sober ride home if they plan on using an impairing substance.”

Traverse City Police Department officials said they no longer participate in this program or receive funding from this grant.

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