RENSSELAER — The Rensselaer Police Department announced this week that it is joining approximately 230 law-enforcement agencies across Indiana and thousands nationwide in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over mobilization. From mid-August through Labor Day, police will be working overtime to arrest impaired drivers. Locals should expect to see increased sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols and saturation patrols.
“Any substance that makes you feel different — like legal or illegal drugs and alcohol — can also make you drive different,” said Rensselaer Police Chief Anderson. “Designate a sober driver today, as officers will be on patrol for impaired drivers.”
A driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest means going to jail and losing one’s driver’s license. The average DWI cost is about $10,000, including car towing and repairs, attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work and other hefty expenses.
Overtime patrols are supported with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI). For more information, visit http://on.IN.gov/drivesober.
New impaired-driving equipment
In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to one year.
But DWI includes more than alcohol, and there is no quick field test for the many prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs that can impair drivers. To assist with traffic enforcement, ICJI recently provided Indiana police agencies with the following:
• 2,600 portable breath tests to evaluate alcohol impairment in drivers,
• 1,000 RADAR and LIDAR speed-measurement devices, and
• Android tablets for 248 highly trained police officers who document drugged drivers.
Tips for a safe and fun season
The annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign includes the Labor Day weekend, with thousands upon thousands of Hoosier families taking to their cars for end-of-summer barbecues, football games, lakes and pool parties. Sadly, it is also one of the deadliest times of year for impaired-driving deaths.
With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired, as it endangers the driver and everyone around them. Law enforcement recommends the following safe alternatives to impaired driving:
• Designate, or be, a sober driver.
• Use public transportation.
• Call a cab or a ridesharing service.
• Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Android Play Store or the Apple iTunes Store. This app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend and identify your location for pickup.
• Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.
• Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.
• Never provide alcohol to minors.
• Ask young drivers about their plans.
• Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.
Motorcycles are about three percent of registered vehicles, but are dramatically over-represented in impaired driving crashes. And the more that bikers are impaired, the less likely they are to wear helmets.
Report impaired drivers
If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include the following:
• Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line
• Driving at a very slow speed
• Braking erratically
• Making wide turns
• Stopping without cause
• Responding slowly to traffic signals
• Driving after dark with headlights off
• Closely missing an object or vehicle
• Turning abruptly or illegally
• Driving on the wrong side of the road
Drivers should also watch for impaired pedestrians who may not be paying attention to their surroundings.