Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 14, and continuing throughout the Labor Day weekend, more than 150 law enforcement agencies from across Kansas will join forces in a concentrated effort to detect and remove impaired drivers.

The Atchison Police Department has partnered with the Kansas Department of Transportation for more than 10 years in the Special Traffic Enforcement Program, said Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson. During Memorial Day and Labor Day periods APD adds additional officers to the streets to increase traffic safety.

APD will again participate in the upcoming STEP initiative, You Drink, You Lose, between Thursday, Aug. 15, and Monday, Sept. 2.

“It’s the right choice to not drink and drive, you win, we all win,” Wilson said.

Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said deputies will be participating in the special enforcement this year while county authorities are on regular patrol.

Kansas Department of Transportation officials report this year’s campaign includes a No Refusal Weekend on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16, and Aug. 17, when all suspected impaired drivers refusing breath testing might be subject to blood testing for alcohol and/or drugs.

According to the National Safety Council, 40 percent of car fatalities occur in the summer months. The Labor Day holiday brings increased traffic and unfortunately, a higher-than-normal number of deaths related to impaired drivers on the road. On average, impaired drivers cause about one-third of all traffic fatalities in Kansas. Across the state, impaired drivers injure or kill more than 2.200 people each year in car crashes.

This year’s 22-day campaign reinforces that no excuse is a good excuse for driving impaired. Designate before you celebrate, use a ride sharing service or get a ride from a sober friend are just a few ways to get home safely.

Impaired drivers can face jail time, suspension of their driving privileges, fines and other costs of up to $10.000. Additionally, the offender will be required to install and pay monthly service fees on an ignition interlock device system. Beyond the financial and legal penalties, impaired drivers face the risk of losing their own lives or taking someone else’s.

Mary Meyers can be reached

via mary.meyers@atchisonglobenow.com

or @MaryMeyersglobe on Twitter.

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