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Nationwide Effort Begins To Crackdown On Holiday Drinking & Driving

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Federal officials are calling for stricter guidelines to prevent intoxicated drivers from getting behind the wheel.

More than 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents last year, that’s a 4.6 increase from the previous year.

U.S. Transportation officials kicked off the annual “drive sober or get pulled over”—a measure which is dedicated to getting drunk and/or drugged drivers either to seek an alternative, or pay the consequences.

“Every 54 minutes during the holiday season drunk driving claims a life,” said Anthony Fox, a U.S. Transportation Secretary.

Gene Gallagher’s 18-year-old daughter Kaitlin was killed in a drunk driving accident on New Year’s Day last year.

“It’s a heartbreak for me and my family,” said Gallagher.

A three with 830 red lights represents Kaitlin, and the others killed by drunk drivers during the holiday season.

Researchers say highly publicized and frequent sobriety checkpoints are a big deterrent which reduces drunk driving related crashes and deaths by 20 percent.

Officials also unveiled tougher guidelines for ignition interlocks—breath devices that prevent a car from starting if a driver’s blood alcohol level is too high.

“Previous research of convicted drunk drivers show that those with interlocks installed are 75 percent less likely to repeat than those who do not,” said David Strickland, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator.

Among the recommendations are requiring interlocks for all drivers convicted of DWI, even first time offenders.

“What we know is that the first time a person gets caught it’s not their first time they’ve driven drunk,” said Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Another recommendation is establishing a minimum length of time offenders must use the device.

The drunk driving crackdown will run through January 1st.

For more information of the crackdown, and to take the drive sober pledge, click here.

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