'Drive Sober' campaign ready to roll

ELKHART — The Elkhart County Traffic Safety Partnership will join over 230 state and local law enforcement agencies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  in an effort to aggressively look for impaired drivers during the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

This campaign will run from mid-August through Labor Day weekend. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

During the event, motorists can expect to see increased high-visibility enforcement zones throughout Elkhart County, as well as saturation patrols and other methods designed to detect and incarcerate impaired drivers. These will not only get impaired drivers off our roads but will help keep them safer for people who are traveling.

Indiana law-enforcement agencies have participated in annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over traffic enforcement for more than 20 years. Overtime patrols are supported with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.


New equipment

In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of 0.02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to one year.

But DWI 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. To assist with traffic enforcement, ICJI recently provided Indiana police agencies with:

n 2,600 portable breath tests to evaluate alcohol impairment in drivers,

n 1,000 RADAR and LIDAR speed-measurement devices, and

n Android tablets for 248 highly trained police officers who document drugged drivers.

Tips for a safe holiday

The annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign includes the Labor Day weekend, with thousands upon thousands of Hoosier families taking to their cars for end-of-summer barbecues, football games, lakes and pool parties. Sadly, it is also one of the deadliest times of year for impaired-driving deaths.

With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there is 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:

n Designate, or be, a sober driver.

n Use public transportation.

n Call a cab or a ridesharing service.

n 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.

n Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.

nThrowing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.

n Never provide alcohol to minors.

n Ask young drivers about their plans.

n Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.

Note for bikers

Motorcycle riders have the reputation for being tough, but no one is tough enough to withstand the effects of impaired riding. Motorcycles are about 3 percent of registered vehicles, but are dramatically overrepresented in fatal crashes involving alcohol. And the more bikers are impaired, the less likely they are to wear helmets. 

Report impaired drivers

Impaired driving is three times more common at night than during the day. If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include:

n Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line

n Driving at a very slow speed

n Braking erratically

n Making wide turns

n Stopping without cause

n Responding slowly to traffic signals

n Driving after dark with headlights off

n Almost striking an object or vehicle

n Driving on the wrong side of the road

n Turning abruptly or illegally

The Elkhart County Traffic Safety Partnership includes the following agencies from Elkhart County: Elkhart City Police, Goshen City Police, Elkhart County Sheriff's Office, Nappanee Police Department, Bristol Police Department and Wakarusa Police Department.

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