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In LA, DWI arrests increase while crashes decrease

According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, increased police presence on roadways and stricter enforcement of traffic laws is responsible for a reduction in alcohol-related accidents and fatalities on state roads.

John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Commission, said Wednesday that the number of alcohol-related accidents in 2010 was around 42 percent of total traffic accidents, which is the lowest it has been in years. From 2006 to 2009, that number has been between 46 and 49 percent.

According to the Commission, state, parish and local law enforcement arrested 31,065 on DWI charges in 2010, 900 less than in 2009. But whereas 2009 say 824 highway deaths, there were 717 in 2010. The bottom line is that, in recent years, the number of crashes is down, but the number of arrests is up, though there were fewer arrests in 2010 than in 2009.

Interestingly, the number of DWU arrests in 2010 was around 5,200 more than 2005. LeBlanc said, though, that the numbers don't necessarily indicate more drunken drivers are on Louisiana roads, but more likely stronger law enforcement.

LeBlanc, who has been head of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission since 2008, has chosen in since he started to put more funding into police overtime and education, as well as public awareness campaigns. Police crackdowns have focused on DWI, seatbelt, and speeding enforcement, particularly during holiday seasons. Much of the money devoted to the crackdowns comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A reduction in funds for 2010 may be part of the reason behind the slight decrease in arrests.

Source: NOLA, "Reduction in alcohol-related accidents on state roads credited to stricter enforcement," Ed Anderson, 21 July 2011.

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