Drive Sober campaign to stretch through Labor Day

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

Area police are among nearly 230 Indiana law enforcement agencies cracking down on impaired drivers during an enforcement blitz that begins Friday and runs through Sept. 3.

The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department, Jasper Police Department and Indiana State Police from the Jasper Post will conduct high-visibility saturation patrols and other activities designed to deter impaired driving in the lead-up to the Labor Day holiday.

Police say Americans mark the end of summer with a Labor Day holiday weekend that finds friends and families eagerly awaiting pool parties, backyard barbecues and other occasions to enjoy the last days of summer sunshine. Sadly, according to law enforcement, the Labor Day holiday has also become one of the deadliest, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others.

Over the 2016 Labor Day holiday period, there were 433 crash fatalities nationwide, with 36 percent of them involving drivers who were drunk, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That was the lowest percentage of impaired drivers over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Jasper Police Department Assistant Chief Aaron Persohn. “The trend for the Labor Day holiday is in a positive direction but our goal is to have zero fatalities, always.”

Lt. Tim Lampert with the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department says Drive Sober or Get Pullover Over isn’t about a ticketing campaign.

“This is about a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it takes lives,” Lampert said.

Research suggests high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

The NHTSA says 10,497 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in all of 2016, which works out to one person killed every 50 minutes. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2012 to 2016.

In every state and the District of Columbia, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration 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.

A DUI arrest means going to jail and losing a driver’s license. The NHTSA puts the average cost of an OWI at about $10,000, which includes car towing and repairs, attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work and other hefty expenses.

The NHTSA provides the funds for overtime enforcement and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute works with state and local law enforcement agencies to administer the program.

The Huntingburg Police Department is using a $7,000 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to pay for extra patrols through Sept. 24 in a program called The Summer Impaired Driving Enforcement Project.

Motorists encountering a suspected drunk driver are urged to call 911. Witnesses should be prepared to give a complete description of the vehicle, including color and make, along with a license plate number, road on which the vehicle is being operated and direction of travel. Callers may remain anonymous.

To stay safe, police offer these tips:

• Plan a safe way home before festivities begin.

• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home. If you’re impaired, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation when available.

• If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take the keys and help that person make other arrangements to get to where he or she is going, safely.

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

• Never provide alcohol to minors.

• Ask young drivers about their plans.

 

 

 




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