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Medford police increase holiday patrols

Medford Police will increase patrols through Jan. 1 in an effort to remove drunk drivers from local roads.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided a grant to the police department that will cover most of its overtime costs for beefed-up drunk driving enforcement as part of its national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

“Be smart and safe,” said Medford police Sgt. Steve Furst. “Don’t take chances.”

Holiday parties have begun and these enhanced patrols started operating Wednesday.

Furst has been with the department for about 27 years. He is part of the department’s Community Engagement Division and works with the Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team. These and other professional experiences provide him with perspective about drunk driving.

He explained that some people might be feeling an increased need to make the most of the holiday because they have been living in abnormal circumstances for so long because of the pandemic and simply just “want to have some fun.”

That could result in reaching the point in which they shouldn’t be driving and might not even realize they are impaired, however, he warned.

Furst advised it’s best to plan for safe transportation before heading out to bars, restaurants and celebrations — anywhere alcohol would likely be served.

If you will be traveling with others to such events, make sure you have a sober driver in the group, Furst stressed.

“A designated driver,” he explained. “Someone who isn’t going to drink at all.”

In Oregon, while it’s illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content level exceeding 0.08%, drivers can be arrested if they are driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.

A driver under the influence of one or more intoxicants with a breathalyser reading below 0.08% can be arrested, charged and even convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants, Furst said.

On the plus side, it’s easier than ever to find a ride if you’ve been drinking and shouldn’t be driving: Not just cabs but Uber, Lyft, family and friends, he said.

If you live close enough to walk to and from a location safely and comfortably, it might be an option to travel on foot, Furst added.

Reach reporter Terri Harber at tharber@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.