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Statewide traffic enforcement project begins Thursday

A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy checks the identification of residents before allowing them to return to their homes Sunday morning Apr. 15, 2012, following a tornado that swept through the Oaklawn neighborhood in south Wichita overnight Saturday, Apr. 14, 2012.
A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy checks the identification of residents before allowing them to return to their homes Sunday morning Apr. 15, 2012, following a tornado that swept through the Oaklawn neighborhood in south Wichita overnight Saturday, Apr. 14, 2012. The Wichita Eagle

The annual “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” traffic enforcement program begins Thursday across Kansas and continues through Labor Day weekend.

More than 100 law enforcement agencies across the state will be participating in the national program, including the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.

Motorists can expect to see extra officers on patrol and also checkpoints at specified locations as authorities watch for those driving under the influence.

“We have actually seen less arrests for DUI this year than last,” Lt. Joe Schroeder said. “I’m hoping that points to a better-educated public who’s being more responsible.”

There have been 1,054 DUI arrests in Wichita so far this year, which is more than 20 percent less than the total for the same time period in 2011.

There have also been fewer DUI-related traffic fatalities so far this year than last, Schroeder said.

Wichita police arrested 37 people for DUI during last year’s “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign and issued a total of 1,034 citations for various traffic offenses.

The campaign is being financed by a Kansas Department of Transportation grant that will fund overtime for law enforcement officers.

Residents can expect to see four to six extra officers on any given day in each of the city’s four police bureaus, Schroeder said.

“We found that the saturation patrols usually yield more results,” Schroeder said.

DUI check lanes require a great deal of planning and coordination among various agencies, he said. State law also requires law enforcement to publicize the location of the check lanes beforehand.

“On saturation patrol, it’s a lot easier to coordinate,” Schroeder said. “It’s easier to adjust your patrol to where you’re seeing trends in drunk driving. You can see a trend develop somewhere overnight.”

Schroeder said it’s important that if people are going to go somewhere and drink that they have a plan – either select a designated driver or contact a cab company for a ride home.

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