Law enforcement officers to stop, arrest impaired drivers during holidays

Special to the American Press

Every time an impaired driver is taken off the road, a potential life is saved.

That’s why the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is sponsoring the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign: to spot, stop, and arrest drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The statewide law enforcement campaign runs Friday, December 15, through Monday, January 1, 2024.

During the past five Christmas holidays in Louisiana, 452 people were injured and 26 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved alcohol, according to data from the Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety (CARTS) at LSU. The 26 people who died in those crashes amount to half of all motor vehicle fatalities during those Christmas holidays from 2018-2022.

“When people say, ‘Why make such a big deal about drivers who had a few drinks,’ my answer is that they consider the families of those 26 people,” LHSC Executive Director Lisa Freeman said. “Every Christmas, they are reminded of why it’s a big deal.”

Impaired drivers pose a threat to everyone on the road, including themselves. In 2022, impaired drivers were involved in a total of 261 fatal crashes. Of those crashes, 197 of the impaired drivers died, the CARTS statistics show.

“Do not drink and drive. It’s just that simple. There are too many safe transportation options out there today to risk your life and the lives of others,” Freeman said. “And for those who choose to ignore that message, our law enforcement partners have been trained to spot impaired drivers, and they will do their job.”

Freeman also reminded all drivers to move over to an adjacent lane, if possible, if they encounter a law enforcement vehicle making a traffic stop on the shoulder of the road. If no adjacent lane is available, drivers should proceed carefully at a safe speed while passing the parked vehicle.

“We expect law enforcement will be busy over the holidays, so keep an eye out for those flashing lights while you’re on the road,” Freeman said.

Anyone who has been drinking should get a safe ride instead of trying to operate a motor vehicle, Freeman said. Better yet, find a designated driver beforehand.

If you’re hosting a holiday party, remember to offer non-alcoholic beverage choices, and keep an eye on guests who have been drinking, Freeman said. If one of them tries to drive, try to get them a designated driver, a cab, or a rideshare.

“We love people who agree to be designated sober drivers,” Freeman said. “They are the real holiday heroes, helping to keep others safe on the road by being a sober friend.”

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