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2013 OWI arrests top 200 in Portage County


STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- Portage County has broken a record, and it’s not a good one.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Daniel Kontos says they have topped 200 drunk driving arrests for the year, and the year isn’t over yet.

Kontos says he’s not sure why the numbers are up, especially since they have not added any special enforcement efforts. He says the increase in arrests has them concerned. “We do have some patrols that are dedicated to just OWI enforcement, but we’ve had those every year, and we’ve never surpassed the 200 OWI arrest mark. Now, we’ve done it with a month and a half left to go in the year, so we’re kind of scratching our heads a little bit.”

Kontos says in the past, state and federal dollars have paid for extra patrols to crack down on drunk driving, but that has not been the case in 2013. “The states and the federal government have cut back on the amount of extra enforcement grants, so we don’t have extra vehicles out there. They’re the vehicles that we would normally have on patrol, with a few extra for OWI patrol, but actually it’s less than we’ve had in the previous years.”

The Department of Transportation’s advertising campaign emphasises that buzzed driving is drunk driving. With that in mind, Kontos says you should plan ahead when you party. “Pay attention, especially now that the holidays are coming up. Make plans ahead of time who your designated driver is going to be or who you’re going to get a ride from when you’re out enjoying yourself.”