Law enforcement officers throughout the state are out in force to combat drunken driving during the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign from Thursday, Dec. 15, through New Year’s Day.
To get drunken drivers off the road before they kill themselves or innocent victims, 24 impaired driving (OWI) task forces in Wisconsin coordinate and combine expertise and resources from multiple law enforcement agencies for high-visibility enforcement efforts. Overtime for task force officers is covered by federal funding administered by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) Bureau of Transportation Safety.
Impaired driving task forces typically notify the public in advance of their enforcement initiatives as a deterrent to drunken driving. Roadside signage and vests on officers let the public know that intensified enforcement is underway, according to David Pabst, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.
“Law enforcement officers are well trained in identifying the signs of impaired driving, and they know where and when to look for drunken drivers,” Pabst says. “If drivers make the irresponsible and reckless decision to get behind the wheel while impaired, officers are ready to stop, test and arrest them. Last year, there were nearly 24,000 convictions for drunken driving in Wisconsin. However, our goal is to get people to drive sober, not to make more arrests.”
To help prevent drunken driving, WisDOT offers a free Zero In Wisconsin Drive Sober mobile app, which includes a find-a-ride feature that uses a smart phone’s GPS to locate alternative transportation, a blood alcohol estimator, designated driver selector, and interactive games that help determine whether drivers should give up their keys. The Drive Sober app can be downloaded for free at: www.zeroinwisconsin.gov/drivesober/.
In addition to the serious problem of drunken driving, people are increasingly being killed and injured in drugged driving crashes. Last year, 149 people were killed in drug-related traffic crashes in Wisconsin, which is nearly a 200 percent increase in the last 10 years.
To help combat this deadly crisis, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and WisDOT have teamed up to produce new TV and radio public service announcements (http://www.zeroinwisconsin.gov/) that warn of the dangers of drugged driving—especially driving under the influence of prescription medications.