Sheriff’s department to increase traffic enforcement during the holidays
La PORTE — Millions of Americans will travel the nation’s highways during the holidays to visit family and friends. With more vehicles on the road, the chances of being involved in a crash increase greatly.
The La Porte County Sheriff’s Department is joining law-enforcement agencies across the country to participate in the winter “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization going on now through Jan. 1. In addition, Indiana police are enforcing seat belt and speeding laws.
Overtime patrols and equipment purchases are supported with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
“Why do we enforce traffic laws? To prevent the crashes, injuries and deaths that hurt our community,” said Capt. Derek J. Allen. “Make sure you are there to open your gifts this season by buckling up – every trip, every time – and using a sober driver.”
According to a Sheriff’s Department press release, NHTSA and ICJI recently purchased more than 2,600 portable breath test devices to assist 150 Indiana law-enforcement agencies in establishing probable cause when arresting drunk drivers. In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to 1 year.
Impaired driving includes more than alcohol, and there is no quick field test for the many prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs that can impair drivers. This year, the police officers highly trained to recognize and enforce drug-impaired driving were issued Android tablets to simplify documentation for prosecution.
Taking a new drug or a higher dose? Talk with a doctor or don’t drive until you know what effects it has. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or a second drug.
With all of today’s options for getting home safely, the Sheriff’s Department says there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired as it endangers you and everyone else around you. Law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to impaired driving:
• Designate, or be, a sober driver.
• Use public transportation.
• Call a cab or a ridesharing service.
• Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Android Play Store or the Apple iTunes Store. This app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend, and identify your location for pickup.
• Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.
• Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.
• Never provide alcohol to minors.
• Ask young drivers about their plans.
• Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.
For more information about drunk driving visit http://on.IN.gov/drivesober and to learn about drug-impaired driving visit http://on.in.gov/drivehighDUI.
Indiana has a primary seat-belt law, meaning police officers may ticket unrestrained drivers or passengers, even if no other traffic violation has taken place.
ICJI and the Purdue University Center for Road Safety estimate that about 93 percent of Hoosiers buckle up. But the small amount of drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts made up more than half of Indiana’s fatal crashes.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, parents and caregivers who don’t buckle up are more likely to have unbuckled kids as adults set the example. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading and increasing cause of death for children age 14 and younger. In Indiana, all passengers under age 8 must be in an approved car seat or booster seat, and unrestrained children under 16 are the driver’s responsibility.
For more information about seat belts visit http://on.IN.gov/buckleup. Choose the safest car seat for your child’s height and weight at https://on.in.gov/therightseat. Find a certified car-seat safety technician to assist with installation at https://on.in.gov/child-seat-tech or through the SaferCar app on iTunes or Google Play.
—From staff reports