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High visibility OWI enforcement expected beginning this week

The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and continuing through the rest of the year, is among the busiest times for drunk driving. So many celebrations offer alcohol, and many people end up over the limit without even realizing it. For that reason, many law enforcement agencies engage in what's called "high visibility enforcement," or HVE, at this time of year.

HVE combines increased enforcement activities with visibility and publicity elements in an effort to deter drunk driving during the HVE period. It's a departure from more traditional law enforcement efforts because the enforcement efforts are designed to be obvious to the public.

When it comes to drunk driving, a typical strategy involves saturation patrols, wave enforcement and multi-jurisdictional cooperation. The efforts are meant to be highly visible and known to the public in advance.

Saturation patrols target increased enforcement in a specific area for a specific time period. These are meant to be highly visible, as increased enforcement activities are believed to promote voluntary compliance.

Wave enforcement can target OWI or other traffic violations at a targeted location in periodic, short bursts of activity. For example, law enforcement might engage in a couple of hours of speed enforcement several times a month, timing it for immediately after rush hour when frustrated drivers try to make up for time spent in stalled traffic.

Multi-jurisdictional cooperation allows various law enforcement agencies such as city police, county sheriffs' offices and the state patrol, along with non-traditional agencies like park or campus police, to combine their efforts. More participating agencies create an increased overall police presence. That is thought to increase the perceived risk that the driver will be caught, which enhances deterrence. Again, these efforts must be visible to be effective.

One of the main themes in HVE is visibility, because visibly increased enforcement efforts are believed to result in greater compliance among the public. In order for that to work, the public must see vehicles being pulled over. Therefore, you should expect more vehicles to be pulled over in the upcoming weeks.

Keep an eye out for notices about increased enforcement in the media and on billboards, pop-up road signs and electronic message scrollers.

Naturally, the best way to avoid an OWI is to avoid driving at all if you're impaired. If you do get arrested for impaired driving, it's crucial to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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