Law enforcement working overtime, enforcing DWI laws this holiday

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Officers from law enforcement agencies across Louisiana will be working overtime during the Independence Day holiday in an effort to save lives by removing impaired drivers from the state's roads. The overtime enforcement wave is made possible by grants issued by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

According to preliminary data, all three of 2012's Fourth of July holiday crash deaths were alcohol related. In 2011, seven people were killed in crashes over the Fourth of July holiday, with more than half of those involving alcohol.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is coordinating an effort with State Police and local agencies to conduct extra patrols and check points dedicated to DWI enforcement during the Fourth of July holiday period. Louisiana State Police and 76 local law enforcement agencies are participating in this year's campaign.

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said increased enforcement campaigns during holidays and other special occasions are playing a role in helping save lives.

"High visibility enforcement campaigns are doing much to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and other risky driving behaviors," LeBlanc said. "Vehicle crashes tend to increase during holiday periods when traffic is heavier and drivers participate in parties and other events that include alcohol consumption.

"The message we are sending to motorists is: Enjoy your Independence Day celebration but don't even think about getting behind the wheel if you've been drinking."

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in Louisiana, with a first-offense arrest costing as much as $1,000 in fines, plus court costs and even jail time. An adult driver can be arrested in Louisiana if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher. The limit for drivers under 21 is .02 BAC.