Police saturate La. roads in 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign; campaign in effect Aug. 15–Sept. 1

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Police officers, sheriffs' deputies and State Police troopers from 166 Louisiana law enforcement agencies are working overtime Aug. 15–Sept. 1 to clear the state's roads of impaired drivers. The "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign is a national effort being coordinated in Louisiana by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

"The long Labor Day weekend is often high in crash deaths and injuries. Some people see this holiday as the unofficial end of summer and a reason to celebrate––much too often by drinking and driving," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. "Our two-week Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign is designed to protect motorists and pedestrians by keeping drunk drivers off our roads."

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has provided grants and support to law enforcement agencies across the state for the campaign. The grant funds are used to pay officers overtime to conduct extra patrols and checkpoints dedicated to arresting drunk drivers. The heavy and highly visible law enforcement presence also serves as a deterrent to would-be drunk drivers.

In addition to troopers working overtime hours during the campaign, Louisiana State Police coordinates some of its enforcement activities with local law enforcement agencies.

“The safety of the motoring public is our number one priority during the Labor Day weekend and during the two-week campaign period when traffic is increased, said Col. Michael Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police.  “We will partner with local police and sheriff’s departments across the state to keep our roadways safe and continue our strict enforcement with zero tolerance for aggressive drivers and intoxicated drivers.”

According to preliminary data, 334 fatal and injury crashes occurred in Louisiana during the 2013 Labor Day holiday, which resulted in 11 deaths and 558 injuries. Seven of the 11 deaths involved alcohol-related crashes.

LeBlanc said the campaign focuses on impaired driving because alcohol is a factor in so many of Louisiana's fatal crashes. In recent years, alcohol has been a factor in slightly over 40 percent of all crash deaths in Louisiana.  Officials believe that Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and similar campaigns have helped reduce the number of alcohol-related crash deaths in Louisiana and across the nation.

A DWI arrest can cost a driver more than $10,000 in fines, court and legal fees, insurance rate increases and other expenses, and usually results in spending at least a few hours or overnight in jail. Persons with a DWI conviction on their record risk having other problems, such as losing their job, suspended driver's license and being required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. In 2012, Louisiana authorities made more than 27,000 DWI arrests.