INDIANA – Traditionally Labor Day is considered one of the most dangerous holidays for drunk driving.
Law enforcement officers are preparing to saturate the highways with additional patrols during the Labor Day holiday, the Indiana State Police announced. The mission is to keep streets and highways safe by identifying and arresting drunk drivers.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign will remain active through Sept. 6.
State troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and city police officers will be unified during the operation designed to arrest drunk drivers who threaten the safety of others traveling on Indiana roads.
Lives lost in highway crashes across the nation involving alcohol-impaired drivers in 2019 totaled 10,142, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s one person killed every 52 minutes in a drunk driving crash. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving crashes each year from 2015 to 2019.
In Indiana, drunk driving has been on the rise. Of the 898 traffic fatalities that occurred last year in the state, 151, or 17 percent, were alcohol-related. That’s up from 130 in 2019. During Labor Day weekend alone, there were 12 fatal collisions with one involving a driver over the legal limit.
“Impaired driving continues to take a terrible toll on our state and nation,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “While these overtime patrols are effective and will undoubtedly save lives, we can’t enforce our way out of this issue. It’s up to everyone to drive sober and make smart choices behind the wheel.”
In Indiana, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. In addition, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to one year.
However, impaired driving includes more than just alcohol. Drugs and even some over-the-counter medications can also cause impairment and can slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times on the road.
Officers will be on the lookout for all forms of impairment, in which the consequences can include thousands of dollars in legal fees, increased insurance rates, loss of license, a criminal record, and possible jail time.
NHTSA reminded people of the many resources available to get them home safely and offered these tips:
- If you plan on drinking, plan not to drive.
- Plan a safe way home before you leave. It’s never OK to drink and drive, even if the driver has consumed only one alcoholic beverage.
- Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
- If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911. Know the signs of impaired driving – quick acceleration or deceleration, tailgating, and driving with headlights off at night are all potential signs that someone may be driving drunk. If you see an impaired driver pull over as soon as possible and call to report the driver. Recall the details of the vehicle and describe your exact location. Give details on which direction the driver is traveling in and what actions they did to give you suspicion of impaired driving.
- If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
- Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.