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The Missoula Police Department is putting on extra patrols through Jan. 1, 2015, to reduce holiday drunken driving and the crashes and fatalities that come with it.

The department joins the Montana Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies across the state. They will include the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol’s Safety Enforcement Traffic Team, whose officers move around the state to focus on high crash corridors and events associated with alcohol consumption.

“Our community offers plenty of alternatives to drinking and driving,” said Sgt. Greg Amundsen of the Missoula Police Department. “You can plan your own safe and sober ride or use one of the local services. We’d rather you take a ride with them than take a ride with us.”

DUI arrests are part of an ongoing effort to reduce deadly drinking and driving in the state. Montana court records show that 10,155 impaired driving charges were filed in 2012.

“It’s a serious task to get impaired drivers off the road,” Amundsen said. “We work hard to prevent the tragedies that result from drinking and driving, but we can’t do it alone.”

The extra patrols are funded with a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant through the state of Montana from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and by the Missoula County DUI Task Force.

Drivers and the public can do their part to prevent impaired driving. Here are some tips for this holiday season:

• If you plan to drink, arrange ahead of time for a sober friend to do the driving.

• Expect your friends and family to have sober drivers and let them know it.

• Provide safe transportation for your party guests, as well as non-alcoholic beverages.

• Avoid mixing alcohol with medications.

• Call 9-1-1 to report an impaired driver.

• Buckle up every person every time.

Diligent enforcement of the state’s traffic laws is critical to Montana’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate roadway deaths and serious injuries. For more information, visit plan2live.mt.gov.

Missoulian Staff

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