Drive Sober campaign stretches through New Year’s

From Local Sources

Officers with the Huntingburg Police Department and Jasper Police Department are joining law enforcement agencies across the country in a holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization going on now through Jan. 1.

Millions of Americans will travel the nation’s highways during the holidays to visit family and friends and that automatically increases the chance of being involved in a crash.

Huntingburg Assistant Chief Brad Kramer says the reason police enforce traffic laws in the first place is “to prevent the crashes, injuries and deaths that hurt our community.”

Jasper Assistant Chief Aaron Persohn says the way everyone can ensure they arrive at destinations to open gifts is “by buckling up – every trip, every time – and using a sober driver.”

Indiana police are also making seat belt and speeding law enforcement part of their holiday mobilization.

The overtime patrols and some equipment purchases that go with it are supported with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

NHTSA and ICJI recently purchased more than 2,600 portable breath-test devices to assist Indiana law-enforcement agencies in establishing probable cause when arresting drunk drivers. In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 percent or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to one year.

Impaired driving includes more than alcohol and police note there is no quick field test for the many prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs that can impair drivers. This year, the police officers highly trained to recognize and enforce drug-impaired driving were issued Android tablets to simplify documentation for prosecution.

Anyone taking a new drug or a higher dose is advised to talk with a doctor or don’t drive until they know what effects it has. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or a second drug, according to police.

With all of today’s options for getting home safely, authorities say there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired and endangering yourself and everyone else around you.

Safe alternatives to impaired driving are to:

• Designate, or be, a sober driver.

• Use public transportation.

• Call a cab or a ride-sharing service.

• Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Android Play Store or the Apple iTunes Store. This app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend,and identify your location for pickup.

• Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.

• Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.

• Never provide alcohol to minors.

• Ask young drivers about their plans.

• Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.

Police note that Indiana has a primary seat-belt law, meaning that police officers may ticket unrestrained drivers or passengers, even if no other traffic violation has taken place.

ICJI and the Purdue University Center for Road Safety estimate that about 93 percent of Hoosiers buckle up. But the small amount of drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts made up more than half of Indiana’s fatal crashes last year.

In Indiana, all passengers under age 8 must be in an approved car seat or booster seat and unrestrained children under 16 are the driver’s responsibility.

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