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Police DWI crackdown plans could stifle Independence spirit

There are a few things in life on which we all can depend; the sun will come up tomorrow; you will owe taxes (even if you should make the mistake of choosing not to pay them); and when a special holiday hits on the calendar Arkansas authorities will crack down on drunk driving.

This weekend is the 4th of July – Independence Day; and in keeping with previous practice, police announce officers will be out in force at the state, county and local levels. As the head of the State Police put it, "Don't even think about drinking and driving this Fourth of July, or you risk being arrested."

The motivation for the strong rhetoric is understandable. Officials point to statistics from 2014. In that year, across the country, 397 people died in motor vehicle crashes during the Independence Day holiday weekend. Impaired driving was found to be a factor in 41 percent of the fatalities.

Police say the activities during this year's holiday will be driven by an attitude of zero tolerance. No excuses are acceptable. They say to avoid trouble, people planning to party should have a designated driver who will practice abstinence. They also encourage taking away keys from someone who has been drinking and insists on driving. Further, they invite the public to call 911 if to report suspected impaired driving.

On the other side of things, here's another thing for readers to remember. In conditions like those that will be in place this weekend, law enforcement could become overzealous. Anyone charged with impaired driving face serious consequences with far reaching effects if they plead guilty or are convicted. Protection of your rights may depend on working with an experienced attorney.

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