The Holidays Mean More Traffic And Drunk Drivers - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/23/05- Tyler

The Holidays Mean More Traffic And Drunk Drivers

Increased traffic during the holidays, means increased enforcement. Starting today, local law enforcement agencies will be targeting drunk drivers, speeders and people who are not wearing their seatbelt. DPS officials say during Christmas weekend last year, it issued more than 10,000 speeding tickets and made 340 DWI arrests.

For some, alcohol and the holidays often go together, but drinking and driving should never.

"What people need to remember is that alcohol acts as a depressant on your system, and what that does is, it makes it difficult for you to concentrate on more than one or two things at one time," said Trooper Jean Dark, Department of Public Safety. "We know that driving is a divided attention task." That means, if you've been drinking you may be able to steer, but forget to put on a turn signal or use your brakes. DPS asks drivers to be aware of cars that make wide turns or are swerving.

Karen Ream is a forensic scientist for DPS. She tests blood to find out it's blood alcohol content. The legal limit is 08, but this year she's tested as high as 1.1.

"It looks like the most we have seen has been about .20," said Karen Ream. She says everyone reacts to alcohol differently.

"Say you don't drink very often, your elimination rate would be slower than someone who drinks everyday," said Ream. "It's about one drink an hour you will eliminate." That means it takes about an hour for one drink to leave your system. Another thing to remember, is that alcohol can impair your judgement. Ream says people think they can drive because of something called Mellanby Effect.

"As you're over your peak and start coming down and start eliminating, your comparing your state of mind that you are there to the state of mind when you were more intoxicated and your thinking oh I can handle this, I can now get into a car because I'm not as drunk as I was an hour ago," said Ream. That's why, DPS says it's important to watch your family and friends this holiday season, and keep those that shouldn't be driving, off the roads.

Molly Reuter, reporting.

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