Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

August 16, 2013

Police target drunk drivers

The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — From mid-August through Labor Day, the Batesville Police Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police will be out in force as part of the annual nationwide “Drive Sober or get Pulled Over” crackdown on drunk driving. Indiana’s high-visibility enforcement effort, also known as Operation Pull Over Blitz 76, will run from Aug. 16 through Sept. 2, 2013.

The crackdown will also consist of saturation patrols, statewide DUI checkpoints and high-profile events. The initiative will be supported by state and national paid advertising, creating a comprehensive effort to curb drunk driving in August and through the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Batesville Lt. Doug Wolfer pointed out, “Every year, about one-third of all motor vehicle traffic deaths involve one or more drunk drivers or motorcycle operators.”

In 2012, there were 5,152 alcohol-related traffic crashes in Indiana, where impairment at 0.08 or above was listed as the contributing factor. These crashes resulted in 158 fatalities, 246 serious bodily injuries and 1,866 other injuries.

Among motorcyclists, last year in Indiana, there were 209 collisions involving alcohol-impaired motorcycle and moped operators, 32 alcohol-impaired motorcycle operator fatalities and 144 alcohol-impaired motorcycle operator nonfatal injuries.

Wolfer added that holidays such as the Labor Day weekend are particularly dangerous.

During the 2012 Labor Day holiday period (Aug. 31-Sept. 4), there were 115 alcohol-related crashes in Indiana. During last year’s Labor Day crackdown, there were 14,655 citations issued, 669 misdemeanor DUIs and 106 felony DUIs.

The lieutenant said Batesville officers will be aggressively looking for drunk drivers during the initiative and will arrest anyone caught driving drunk.

Although it is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to drive impaired (having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher), “far too many people across the nation get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol,” Wolfer noted.

Drunk driving takes a particularly heavy toll among young drivers. The age group 21-24 accounts for the highest rate of alcohol- impaired drivers per 10,000 licenses for both males and females at 31.4 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. Overall, the male rate of impaired driving collisions per 10,000 licenses is nearly three times higher than the female rate, 13.0 to 4.4, respectively.

“Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober or get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. By joining this nationwide effort, we will make Batesville’s roadways safer for everyone throughout the Labor Day period,” promised Wolfer.

“We want to remind everyone that getting behind the wheel drunk is a terrible idea. Unfortunately, not only does drinking impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely, it also impairs your judgment and good sense about whether you can or should drive. If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not get behind the wheel. If you do choose to drive impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses,” he said.

The officer noted that being arrested for driving drunk brings a wide range of negative consequences into one’s life. Drunk drivers face jail time, loss of their driver licenses and steep financial consequences, such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of a job. When family, friends and co-workers find out, violators also often face tremendous personal embarrassment.

“Driving drunk is simply not worth the risk. So don’t take the chance,” Wolfer advised.