Anyone who drinks and drives this holiday season on Louisiana roads faces a much worse fate than being on the naughty list - law enforcement agents across the state will pull them over and put them in jail during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization.
"Too many innocent people have been killed, and too many families have been torn apart by impaired driving," said Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman. "Police officers, sheriffs' deputies and Louisiana State Police will have extra personnel on the road to catch and arrest impaired drivers during the holidays.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is a high-visibility national enforcement campaign that begins on Friday, December 13 and ends Wednesday, January 1. It is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
During the 2018 Christmas holiday in Louisiana, 16 people were killed in highway crashes, and 12 of those fatalities were alcohol-related, according to the Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation (CARTS) at LSU. Another 84 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes in Louisiana during the same holiday period, according to CARTS. On the national level, NHTSA reported that 285 people were killed in drunk-driving related crashes during the Christmas and New Year's holidays in 2018.
People who drive after taking drugs - even legally prescribed prescription drugs - also must be fully aware of the side effects the drugs may have on their judgment, motor skills and mental alertness, Freeman said. "We are seeing that more and more vehicle crashes are the result of drugged driving in Louisiana. Law enforcement officers can quickly spot a drugged driver, and those drivers also will be arrested and jailed."
Freeman offered these tips for holiday driving:
- It is never okay to drink and drive. Just one alcoholic beverage can impair a driver.
- If you take prescription medication, you need to know how it affects your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Even small amounts of prescription or over the counter drugs can impair a driver.
- Designate a sober driver or be a hero and designate yourself as the sober driver.
- If a friend is impaired, get them a ride home with a cab or ride-share service.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement agency.
Freeman emphasized that the purpose behind Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over "is to stress that there are consequences to actions. If Louisiana law enforcement agents spot an impaired driver, that driver will be taken off the road. This necessary response by law enforcement prevents the more serious consequence of an impaired driver causing a crash that hurts or kills someone."
Local law enforcement agencies participating in this campaign include the Abbeville Police Department.