Drive Sober FebruarySMALLThe Benton Police Department is launching the “Be Someone’s Sweetheart and Rethink Your Drink” that will focus on halting impaired driving. Throughout February officers will place extra emphasis on catching anyone that chooses to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which will end up with a free trip to the Saline County jail.

The DWI task force will be in full operation along with enhanced patrol techniques to detect and arrest violators.

“For everyone’s sake, don’t drink and drive or drive while drugged or you will be arrested,” said Chief Kirk Lane. “The Benton Police Department is ramping up their enforcement to make our roads safer and that means zero tolerance for impaired drivers. There are no excuses.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyday nearly 30 people in the U.S. die in motor vehicle crashes that involve alcohol-impaired driving (which amounts to one death every 51 minutes). But impaired driving doesn’t just involve alcohol.

Drugged driving, or substance impaired driving, is the detection of legal or illegal substances that impact driving ability. There are many impairing drugs—both legal and illegal—that can impair driving skills: over-the-counter, prescription, legal medicinal/recreational marijuana, and illicit drugs. Drugged driving, like drunk driving, is a choice and 100% preventable crime, resulting in devastating consequences for innocent families.

“It’s time for all drivers to get the message,” Lane said. “Drunk or drugged driving is a choice you make, and when you make that choice, people get hurt or die.”

About 4,000 drivers are killed each year with drugs in their systems and that doesn’t count those who had drugs in their system without test results, or those killed by drivers with drugs in their system, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 57% of fatally injured drivers had alcohol and/or other drugs in their system. If you are driving impaired, Benton police will stop you and you could face jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, towing fees, and other DUI expenses, totaling $10,000 on average.

“That doesn’t even count the heftier price you could pay: the price of your life or someone else’s,” Lane said. “Some people think that if they get pulled over for driving drunk, they can just refuse a breath test to avoid the DUI charge. That’s not true. In most jurisdictions, refusing a breath test means an automatic arrest, and the loss of your driver’s license on the spot.”

It’s our hope that we continue to see a decrease in the number of accidents and also reduce the number of injuries and fatalities as a result. Making good choices while in motor vehicles such as never driving while impaired, always ensuring every occupant is properly restrained, maintaining the speed limit, and avoiding all distractions can often mean the difference between life and death. So this month be sure to “Be Someone’s Sweetheart and Rethink Your Drink.”

To report suspicious driving and/or accidents, call the Benton Police Department at 501-778-1171 or 501-315-TIPS. Individuals also may send us anonymous information to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD in the body of the text or go to to leave a tip. A crime tip can also be submitted via the official Benton Police Department app found on ITunes and Google Play.

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