September 19, 2014

Getting drunks off the road

During this “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, beefed up law enforcement officers statewide are patrolling for longer hours to arrest drunken drivers.

State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, Wisconsin DOT Bureau of Transportation Safety, says these types of efforts are very successful; the number of convictions are decreasing. “We are never able to catch every single impaired driver that’s out there, but with the additional numbers of officers out there looking for them, it gives us an opportunity to catch even more of them than normal.

Last year, there were about 35,000 drunken driving convictions in Wisconsin.

The goal of the campaign is not simply to make more arrests, Huxtable says, but to educate people and discourage impaired individuals from getting behind the wheel in the first place. “There are other alternatives to driving while impaired. We’re not trying to tell people to stop drinking; what we’re trying to do is say if you’re going to drink, plan ahead, make sure that you have alternative transportation.”

The fine and penalty when caught driving drunk could go into the thousands, depending on the number of the offense. The motorist also faces a suspension of their driver’s license, six demerit points, and there’s also the risk of injury or death. Alcohol-related crashes killed 225 people last year and injured nearly 3,000 more.

A nationwide crackdown on drunken driving begins today and continues through Labor Day, September 3rd. Federal grants will fund extra law enforcement and statewide media messages about the dangers of impaired driving.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:40