Pubdate: Thu, 07 Oct 2004
Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP)
Copyright: 2004 Saipan Tribune


The 3D-Drunk and Drugged Driving-committee said yesterday that it will
be intensifying its fight against drunk and drugged driving to stem
the high number of arrests of motorists driving under the influence of
alcohol and drugs.

The committee, comprising staff from the Department of Public Safety
Traffic Section, met with other government agencies, including the
Attorney General's Office, Marianas Visitors Authority, and the Saipan
Mayor's Office, yesterday morning to discuss ways of educating the
community against drunk and drugged driving.

Plans for events this December-to be proclaimed Drunk and Drugged
Driving Prevention Month-include a mini-fair, presentations at schools
and both government and private agencies, among others.

Statistics provided by the DPS Traffic Section indicate that 254 DUI
arrests were made in the first nine months this year, the majority of
which involved males.

A total of 35 arrests were made in January, 35 in February, 29 in
March, 21 in April, 18 in May, 26 in June, 34 in July, 31 in August,
and 25 in September. Of the 254, over 25 incidents involved motorists
under the legal drinking age of 21.

Also, nine crashes involving DUI were posted in January, seven in
February, 14 in March, eight in April, six in May, 12 in June, and
seven in August.

On average, DPS officers respond to nearly 30 DUI incidents a

Last year, a total of 365 DUI cases were reported, 17 of which
involved drivers under the age of 21, and 131 involving crashes. A
total of 422 cases were reported in 2002, with 36 incidents involving
drivers under 21 years old.

Traffic Section also reported that majority of DUI arrests occurred
between 8pm and 4am.

Statistics also indicate that a total 2,142 accidents were recorded
from January to August this year-89 cases or 4.3 percent higher than
the number recorded last year, which totaled 2,053 in the first eight

The report also shows a 67.2-percent increase when drawing comparison
between incidents this year and the same period in 2002, which
featured 1,281 accidents in the first eight months.

Further, Traffic related fatalities have already surpassed the numbers
recorded last year, with nine deaths recorded compared with seven in

Traffic accidents also increased by 41.1 percent from 2002 to 2003,
with a total of 3,168 recorded in 2003, or 923 cases more than the
2,245 recorded in 2002.

Committee vice chair Rose Ada-Hocog earlier disclosed that the
committee is currently working on getting support from the Legislature
to include DUI in the Child Endangerment Act.

"We really want this to go through because a lot of residents.once
they drink beer, and you tell them that you're going to drive them,
they refuse. When they drink, they sometimes don't think of the
passengers. We've got to protect our children and our people, and one
way is to include Child Endangerment in the list of traffic offenses,"
she said.

The Traffic Section works toward improving public safety, advocating
passage of legislation that would update and improve current laws,
zero out fatalities and injuries, and educate the public, especially
foreigners about NMI traffic laws, among others.
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MAP posted-by: Derek