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Apr 10, 2012 9:26 AM by AP

Alcohol-related fatalities down in Lafayette area

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A coalition to fight drunk driving says it has helped boost the number of DWI arrests in Lafayette Parish and cut the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths.

The group got a $1.3 million grant to increase DWI patrols, starting in 2009.

The number of arrests in Lafayette for impaired driving has risen from 211 in 2007 to 1,144 in 2011, and the number of fatal alcohol-related wrecks in Lafayette Parish from 24 in both 2007 and 2008 to 16 in 2009 and 11 in 2010, according to a report from the group.

"Our officers have to definitely take full credit for it," court services manager Kelly Mouisset, who heads the coalition for Lafayette Consolidated Government, told The Advocate.

The group was first called Lafayette Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse but changed its name to The Knowledge Effect.

Mouisset said Lafayette Parish has consistently ranked among the top three parishes statewide in alcohol-related crashes, and was among 10 pilot parishes to get grants from the state Department of Health and Hospitals to reduce such wrecks.

The coalition's plan included media campaigns, increased DWI patrols, more focused checks to make sure minors couldn't buy alcohol, and creating a program to teach middle school students about the dangers of underage drinking and substance abuse.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft credited the coalition for help getting the Alcohol Traffic Action Campaign unit reactivated by providing support and money for specialized training and equipment.

"The program's all-inclusive approach to every aspect of alcohol use has been very effective and contributed to the decreased number of deaths from alcohol-related accidents in Lafayette," Craft wrote in an email.

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