Starting next week, law enforcement agencies throughout Indiana and Illinois will be participating in the next national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which runs from August 17 – September 5, 2016. Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this is a joint effort between federal, state, and local agencies to try and prevent car crashes and other motor vehicle accidents caused by a driver who is driving drunk or under the influence of alcohol.
The campaign time period covers the popular Labor Day Weekend, a holiday known for high traffic on our local roads as lots of folk enjoy a short trip before summer ends and the kids go back to school.
And rest assured, police in Indiana and Illinois are taking this drunk driving campaign very seriously. One example: in Tippecanoe County, the four law enforcement agencies covering that jurisdiction have joined together in the “Tippecanoe County Traffic Safety Partnership.” Together, these officers will be participating in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Campaign with a view not only for the Labor Day Holiday traffic, but watching out for the college kids going back to school and all the football fans who will be driving the Greater Lafayette area roads to watch Purdue University’s first home football game.
Drunk Driving Crashes Are Preventable Accidents
It’s recognized by law enforcement across the country that drunk driving is a “serious safety epidemic” in the United States, and that fatal drunk driving accidents are particularly tragic because they are PREVENTABLE. Among law enforcement circles, these officers view targeting traffic and being on the lookout for drunk drivers over the next few weeks as a way to prevent some of those fatalities and wrongful deaths due to drunk driving, as well as an opportunity to increase public knowledge and awareness of this huge national problem and danger.
Perhaps we could all use a bit more education on the seriousness of driving under the influence of alcohol, and how even a single glass of wine or cocktail can successfully impair a driver: “buzzed” driving is driving under the influence and increases the chances of a serious auto accident.
Police are Very, Very Serious About Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents
Agencies are gearing up for this Drunk Driving Campaign, and many are teaming together to make a more powerful impact. As in Tippecanoe County, other counties are creating partnerships for the event, such as the “Porter County Traffic Safety Partnership,” where law enforcement officers from police departments in Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Hebron, Kouts, Ogden Dunes, Portage, Porter and Valparaiso will be working together on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
How? Police officers will be targeting traffic. They will be looking for signs of someone driving under the influence. There will be sobriety patrols. Officers will man checkpoints on roadways suspected of having a high number of drunk drivers.
And overtime is welcomed for police officers during the campaign time frame (August 12 through September 5).
“Ensuring drivers and their passengers are safe on the road is one of our key priorities. This campaign allows us the opportunity to remind everyone behind the wheel that driving intoxicated is against the law. We will be out in full patrol and chances are if you drive impaired, we will pull you over.”
No One is Immune From Drunk Driving Arrest
Drunk driving is a big, big problem here in Indiana and Illinois and the police are getting very serious about combating this problem. Especially now: law enforcement is zealous about arresting those who are discovered to be driving motor vehicles under the influence — it doesn’t matter who you are here in Indiana and Illinois.
How serious are the police about fighting drunk driving accidents? Some very well-respected and trusted members of our local communities have found themselves the subject of news reports for their drunk driving arrests.
Consider the following:
A Chicago Tribune staff reporter wrote a story back in April 2016 entitled “Illinois State Trooper Pleads Guilty To DUI While On Duty, Prosecutors Say,” explaining how even our local peace officers aren’t immune to the temptation to have a drink before getting behind the wheel.
The story reports on Illinois State Police Trooper Paul Zurn, who pled guilty to driving under the influence while on the job when he went to investigate a minor car crash on I-88 back in August 2015. He was sentenced to one year of court supervision in a plea deal where the trooper pled guilty to misdemeanor DUI under Illinois penal laws.
Over in Gary, there’s a more serious situation involving another police officer. An officer with the Sheriff’s Department of Lake County was arrested for drunk driving (DUI) while on the job. He was reportedly driving an unmarked police vehicle when he was involved in an accident.
In the crash, the officer hit a minivan. The minivan occupant was seriously hurt. The officer did not stay at the scene, but a patrolman noticed the damage to his unmarked car and asked for a blood test. The driver, a lieutenant with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, tested at .15 — which is well over the legal limit.
He was arrested both for driving drunk and for leaving the scene of an accident, and placed on administrative leave.
The head basketball coach for Anderson High School in Madison County, Indiana, was arrested for DWI last month and while he was only behind bars a short time, being freed on bond, he did face suspension from both his coaching and teaching jobs by the Anderson Community Schools administration.
Senior Judge William I. Garrard of the Indiana Court of Appeals pled guilty to driving drunk (specifically, a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated) back on June 14, 2016 after he was involved in a car crash in Morristown. At the accident scene, breath tests showed his blood alcohol content to be .14 and he was arrested for DUI.
This month, the Indiana Supreme Court heard charges on whether or not this constitutes judicial misconduct; the decision was that he be reprimanded for the drunk driving incident as violations of Rules 1.1 and 1.2 of the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct.
Drunk driving remains a real concern for police and law enforcement in Indiana and Illinois, and it’s a tragic dilemma for those who help the victims of drunk drivers as well.
For those who assist the people who have been seriously injured in a drunk driving accident, or loved ones pursuing claims under the state wrongful death statute after their beloved has died in a drunk driving car crash, the fact that there may be financial damages to help in the aftermath of the DUI accident is a good thing — but never enough in the face of a tragedy that is entirely preventable. Let’s be careful out there!