REGION — The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, as part of the “Drive Sober Maine” 2015 Evidence Based Impaired Driving High Visibility Enforcement Program.

The grant, written by Sergeant Timothy Kachnovich, provides federal funds to law enforcement agencies to reimburse the overtime cost incurred by their police officers for dedicated OUI enforcement. The program begins April 1st, 2015 and ends on Sept. 15, 2015.

The program will enable the Sheriff’s Department to increase effective enforcement of traffic safety related laws and impaired driving incidences as well as impaired driving-related injuries, crashes, and fatalities. The goal is to identify and remove impaired drivers from our highways as well as serving as a deterrent to other drivers who are contemplating operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and or drugs. Deputies will be conducting extra (saturation) patrols as well as conducting organized sobriety checkpoints throughout the county.

The objective of the Sheriff’s Office is to educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving and reduce alcohol and drug related crashes and injuries on our rural highways.

In Maine, it is a criminal offense to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.

The minimum court imposed penalties for an OUI conviction for the first offense, with no aggravating factors, is a suspended license for 150 days and a $500 fine. Aggravating factors are described as a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more, traveling 30 mph over the speed limit, attempting to elude a police officer or transporting a passenger under 21.

A “zero tolerance law” applies in Maine to drivers under 21 years of age. If drivers are found operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in their bodies, they will lose their license for one year. If there is a passenger under 21 years of age in the vehicle, an additional 180-day suspension is imposed.

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