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Police agencies plan show of force for holiday weekend.

Byline: Rebecca Taylor The Register-Guard

Police officers won't be taking a holiday this Labor Day weekend.

Eugene police are planning special patrols targeting drunken drivers around Autzen Stadium for Saturday's big game.

And Oregon State Police will be taming wild drivers on Interstate 5 as part of a three-state effort to reduce traffic deaths over the extended weekend.

Both agencies hope to keep the streets safe for football fans and holiday revelers alike.

"Speeding and driving while distracted or impaired are huge contributing factors in traffic crashes," Oregon State Police Superintendent Tim McLain said. "We hope the extra patrol presence and active enforcement can help prevent as many crashes as possible."

Over the past five football seasons, Eugene police have arrested or cited 210 people for driving under the influence and 1,500 for other liquor violations on Duck home game days, police spokeswoman Kerry Delf said.

More officers than ever will patrol streets around the stadium, including I-5 and Interstate 105, during and after Saturday's opening game at Autzen. Lane County sheriff's deputies and troopers from the Oregon State Police will bring extra manpower to the effort.

A team of specially trained drug recognition experts will join patrol officers this year to help ferret out drivers high on drugs.

Meanwhile, state police in Oregon, Washington and California will join forces to patrol I-5 and secondary highways today through Monday. The head of each state police agency will join rank-and-file troopers on the road this weekend as part of an "all-hands on the road" approach to traffic enforcement.

Over Labor Day last year, six people died in four wrecks in Oregon, 46 people died in 30 wrecks in California, and 11 people died in 11 crashes in Washington.

State police urged drivers to keep an eye out for emergency vehicles, be prepared for detours and work-zone speed limits at road construction sites, use safety restraints, abide by speed limits and drive sober.

Eugene police reminded motorists that, in addition to the potential for death and injury, drunken driving arrests can be expensive and inconvenient. A first drunken driving conviction generally costs about $2,000 and can lead to a 90-day suspension of driving privileges. Refusing to take a breath test often results in a one-year suspension. A second conviction can cost $5,000 and result in a three-year suspension.

Minors can be charged with drunken driving if any amount of alcohol is detected in their systems, even if the amount is less than 0.08, the legal driving limit. And bicyclists caught pedaling while drunk can also be charged with DUII, police said.
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Title Annotation:Crime; Officers will keep an eye out for drunken drivers near Autzen and troopers will step up patrols along interstates
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 31, 2007
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