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Troopers stress safe and sober holidays

State troopers urge all motorists to drive safely and defensively throughout the upcoming holiday period.

All available troopers will be on patrol during peak holiday travel times to help ensure safe travel on the state's roadways, according to Col. James H. Alexander, Public Safety director.

Gov. Don Siegelman addressed the importance of sober driving during the holidays.

"I have worked hard to give Alabama the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation.

As attorney general I pushed legislation which lowered the legal blood alcohol level from .10 percent to .08, and doubled the fines for DUI.

"As governor we passed legislation imposing new penalties against people who drive drunk with children in the car.

Alabama does not tolerate people who drink and drive.

I urge motorists to drive responsibly during this holiday season, and caution those who are tempted to break Alabama's DUI laws that the consequences are not worth it," said Siegelman.

Troopers will conduct checkpoints and intensify enforcement efforts throughout the weekend and during upcoming holiday travel periods in an effort to prevent drunken driving and remove impaired drivers from Alabama's roadways.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety estimates that 14 people will lose their lives in traffic crashes in the state during the 78-hour Christmas travel period, which begins at 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 22, and ends at midnight Monday, December 25.

In 1999, seven people died in traffic crashes on Alabama roadways during a 78-hour Christmas period, six on rural roads and one in an urban area.

Alcohol was a factor in at least five of the deaths, and two of the victims were not using safety belts.

The traffic fatality prediction for New Year's is that nine people will die in traffic crashes in Alabama during the 78-hour period from 6:00 p.m. Friday, December 29, through midnight Monday, January 1, 2001.

Last year eight people died during the 78-hour New Year's travel period, five on rural roads and three in urban areas.

At least three of the deaths were alcohol related, and three of the crash victims were not using safety belts.