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Hadley, Granby join national crackdown; will 'aggressively' seek impaired driving

As part of the national and grant-funded Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, the town’s police officers will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers at all times of day and issued a stern message about the program to area residents.

“Our message is simple and unwavering: operate a motor vehicle impaired and we will arrest you. No exceptions,” Hadley Police Chief Dennis Hukowicz said in a statement.

The department joins 126 other law enforcement agencies statewide and others nationally participating in what has been described as an intensive crackdown on impaired driving from Aug. 16 to Sept. 2, which is Labor Day. The Massachusetts State Police will have continued checkpoints and additional patrols through Labor Day and other area towns like Granby, are anticipating.

With a grant of $3,000 from the highway safety division of the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Granby police will have an extra cruiser on the road around six times during the program, Granby Police Chief Alan Wishart said.

“We’re hoping to increase traffic safety through enforcement and having extra patrols out there that we wouldn’t normally have,” Wishart said.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spearheading the campaign, show that nearly 10,000 people die each year on U.S. roadways because of drunk driving.

During the past five years, 800 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during Labor Day weekend, according to the federal agency. In 2011, three out of four people arrested for driving under the influence were male, according to FBI statistics.

Hukowicz said it’s predictable but a fact that the number of drivers operating under the influence increases during holiday weekends, especially during the summer.

“All too often that means innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences from this careless disregard for human life,” he said.

“We’re committed to ending the carnage so we’re intensifying enforcement during this crackdown and will be especially vigilant during nights and weekends when impaired drivers are most likely on our roads.”

The Hadley Police Department reminds area residents that the trauma and financial costs of impaired driving can destroy one’s life. Violators could face jail time, fines, suspension or loss of drivers’ licenses, along with increased insurance rates, attorneys’ fees, court costs, lost wages and the potential loss of job or job prospects.

“It’s not worth taking the chance,” Hukowicz said.

Gazette Contributing Writer Gena Mangiaratti contributed to this story. Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.

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