(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Sheriff's Office announces that it will be increasing patrols during the holiday season as part of a statewide crackdown on impaired driving.
Starting this week until January 1, deputies will be on high alert for anyone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Deputies will also be watching for seat belt violations and other forms of dangerous driving.
This effort is part of the Safe Family Travel campaign to reduce crashes and traffic fatalities around the holidays when statistics show an increased potential for impaired driving. The high-visibility patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
"This holiday season, we'll have a strong and visible presence focused on keeping people safe and dangerous drivers off the roads," said Captain Derek J. Allen. "This announcement is a reminder about the dangers of impaired driving, but it also serves as a warning. If you choose to drive impaired on drugs or alcohol, you will be arrested."
Every year, more than 10,000 people die in drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. That's approximately one person every 52 minutes. While driving under the influence is a daily concern, it's more prevalent around certain holidays, with Christmas and New Year's among the deadliest.
Last December, 73 people lost their lives in fatal collisions in Indiana. Of those, 11 involved a drunk driver, according to ICJI.
"It's important to remember that these aren't just numbers we're talking about," said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. "These are people with loved ones whose lives were cut short due to impaired driving. Your choices behind the wheel matter, and they can have serious consequences."
Throughout the campaign, deputies will be working overtime to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving, which includes more than just drugs and alcohol. For example, certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can affect a person's ability to drive safely, so it's essential to read and follow all warning labels or consult a doctor before driving.
The LCSO is asking for the public's help to keep Indiana roads safe this holiday season by designating a sober driver or using a ride service, public transportation, or taxi if alcohol is consumed. Motorists are also encouraged to wear a seat belt, slow down, put down the cell phone, and make sure kids are properly buckled up. In addition to being required by law, wearing a seat belt also reduces the risk of injury or death in a crash.
"If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, make arrangements ahead of time to get home safely – don't wait until after you've had a couple of drinks," said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. "One wrong decision behind the wheel is all it takes to cause a tragedy."
Motorists can report suspected impaired drivers by calling 911 or contacting the LCSO.