Less help from above for Iowa troopers

| Thursday, July 03, 2003

Iowa, like many states, is getting ready for heavy highway travel over the Fourth of July weekend. But it may have to handle the surge in activity with a little less help from above.

The Des Moines Register reported that the state is cutting two of the eight airplanes that the State Patrol uses to catch speeders and other traffic violators. The reduction was primarily caused by budget cuts in the state.

However, the Patrol will have a little more help on the ground to make up for the loss. Officials at the agency announced June 30 that 82 State Troopers would be added from July 3 to 6 thanks to a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That will more than make up for the 54-trooper reduction the force has suffered during the past two years.

During the holiday last year, Iowa troopers handled four fatality accidents, three of which were the result of drunken drivers. Fifty-four people were arrested for driving under the influence during the July Fourth holiday in 2002. Those figures may rise now that the state has lowered its standard for what constitutes drunken driving from 0.10 percent blood alcohol content to 0.08.

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