April 24, 2014

Increased enforcement on drunken drivers

State and local law enforcement officers across Wisconsin continue patrolling in greater numbers and for longer hours to get drunks off the road. There had been reports of drivers with multiple offenses over the years. State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety, says she recalls a motorist with 16 OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) offenses.

“I can’t even imagine somebody having their 16th offense because that’s definitely significant prison time or jail time for them.”

Huxtable says repeated impaired driving is usually due to improper planning or other problems, such as alcoholism. Though, it’s not typical to see multiple offenses.

Huxtable says when most drivers are cited with an OWI and told about their level of intoxication, they usually have a wake-up call. “More than half of our OWI convictions are just for first time.” She says the person gets their first citation and recognizes they shouldn’t have done that or “I didn’t realize I was that drunk; that’s how it feels.”

Huxtable says 40 percent of deaths on Wisconsin roadways are alcohol related. That’s 225 deaths, she says, that could have been prevented. And, nearly 3,000 more individuals are injured as a result of alcohol-related crashes.

Seat belts also play a huge role in driver safety. “More than 50 percent of our traffic deaths are caused from unbuckled drivers.”

The DOT reminds motorists to driver sober, obey traffic laws, and buckle up. The nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown on drunk driving continues through Labor Day, September 3rd.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:43