Summer Drive Sober effort to run til Labor Day

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Evansville Courier and Press on 08/10/2017 by Tori Fater

Local police are starting a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign this month to crack down on drunk driving and other unsafe driving in Vanderburgh County.

The Vanderburgh County campaign, which will involve at least one sobriety checkpoint as well as saturation patrols, is a joint effort of the Evansville Police Department, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police.

The push is funded by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute through a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which pays overtime wages for officers who sign up to work extra patrols. Drive Sober is part of a national effort to keep roads safe from impaired drivers.

“Our goal is to keep the roadways clean between now and Labor Day Weekend,” said Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding.

Officers will start saturation patrols Friday, Wedding said, and continue through Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 2 to 4. Those patrols will run in areas with high traffic and areas where people are likely to crash.

Police held a news conference to announce the Drive Sober campaign at Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear’s Office – a choice Wedding hopes will remind people of the possible consequences of drunk driving.

“We know oftentimes our fatal crash victims end up at his office,” Wedding said. “A significant number of them have used alcoholic beverages at the time of the crash.”

In 2015, 211 people in Indiana died in alcohol-related car crashes.

That’s about a quarter of car crash fatalities in the state that year, according to the NHTSA.

Kentucky had a similar number of fatalities that year – 223 people died in alcohol-related crashes, about 30 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities in 2015.

Patrol officers will look for signs of drunk driving as well as other reckless drivers, Wedding said – people speeding, texting while driving and people who did not buckle their seat belt before getting on the road.

“We’re hoping to get the message to people that we’re out here,” Wedding said. “Use good driving skills and common sense when you’re out.”

The Courier & Press has tracked almost 250 drunk driving arrests – 75 women and 174 men – since Feb. 1 in Vanderburgh County. Eight of those arrests involved underage drivers.