In Indiana and Illinois, along with the rest of the country, state and local law enforcement agencies are working together with federal authorities to fight against drunk driving accidents over the upcoming holiday — and the crack down has already begun.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign began on August 21, 2015, and continues through September 7, 2015. Police will be targeting drivers who are operating cars, trucks, SUVs, as well as commercial vehicles like big rig semi trucks and 18 wheelers for drivers who are operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. Anyone with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher will be arrested for driving drunk (.08 is considered legally intoxicated in Indiana and Illinois).
According to NHTSA studies, drunk driving accidents are responsible for 31% of all deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes in the United States, and 68% of those drunk driving accidents had at least one driver with a BAC of .15% or higher. That’s two times more than what Indiana and Illinois define as driving drunk under the law.
This coordinated effort between federal, state, and local authorities is designed to pull drivers over and arrest those who are found to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
It’s a criminal effort, and arrests will be made.
However, for those accidents where people are seriously hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident, the criminal justice system will not provide the only avenue for justice against that drunk driver. Personal injury claims and wrongful death cases under state laws are of vital importance to accident victims and their families. It is through personal injury law that families are able to obtain relief for the realities of things like lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, pain and suffering, long term medical needs including therapy and rehabilitation, and more.
Promoting awareness of the dangers of drunk driving – especially over a holiday time period – will save lives. However, the truth is that too many people will still get behind the wheel thinking that they’re fine to drive and accidents will happen.
Over the next few weeks, it’s important that drivers in Indiana and Illinois be aware not just of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign — but of the increased risk of a drunk driving accident during this time peroid. The danger of being involved in an accident with a drunk driver is especially high at night (between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am) and over the holiday weekend itself (i.e., the three-day Labor Day weekend).
“Targeted enforcement campaigns are an essential element in our strategy to save lives and reduce crashes, and they have helped sharply reduce the number of drunk drivers on our roads,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “But too many drivers continue to risk their lives and the lives of others by getting behind the wheel drunk. Our message is clear: drive sober, or get pulled over.”
From Indiana’s Criminal Justice Institute, here are some tips for staying safe during the Labor Day Weekend:
- Plan a safe way home before you start the Labor Day festivities;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
- If you’re drunk, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- Use your community’s sober ride program.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement immediately.
- If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while drunk, be a friend and take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.