Law enforcement agencies around the state are preparing for a crackdown on impaired drivers. Larry Sauer, with the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says the beefed-up enforcement effort – dubbed “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” – is scheduled to run from this Thursday through the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Officers will be “especially vigilant” at night and over the weekends as Sauer says research shows alcohol impaired crashes are four-times as likely to occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. There were 371 fatal traffic crashes in Iowa in 2009 and Sauer says 96 were alcohol-related.

“Folks have to realize that when they take a drink, sometimes they feel they’re okay to drive, but in actuality their senses are slow and they may become a hazard to themselves and everybody else on the road,” Sauer said. Young drivers are especially at risk of being involved in an alcohol-related fatal traffic crash.

Sauer notes a high percentage of such crashes involve motorists in the 21-to-24 age group. “I guess I don’t really know the reason. It seems they just take more risks with alcohol and driving than other age groups do,” Sauer said. A similar enforcement effort was conducted last year and between August 24 and September 6, there were 7 fatalities on Iowa roads. Two of those crashes involved drunk drivers.