Police Departments around the state have announced that they will be increasing patrols during the holiday season, as part of the winter Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national enforcement mobilization.
Now until January 1st, officers will be showing zero tolerance for impaired drivers, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, and will be on the lookout for unbuckled motorists.
The patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute grant.
The holiday season is one of the deadliest times of the year for impaired-driving fatalities. According to NHTSA, during the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods in 2018 alone, there were 285 drunk driving fatalities. That’s more drunk-driving-related fatalities than during any other holiday period that year in the U.S.
Last December in Indiana, there were 415 alcohol-related crashes, resulting in 105 injuries and 11 fatalities.
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 1 year.
However, impaired driving includes more than alcohol. Drugs and even some over-the-counter medications can also cause impairment, and can slow coordination, judgment and reaction times on the road.
To further save lives and prevent traffic fatalities, officers will also be watching for seat belt violations.
According to NHTSA, from 1975 to 2017, seat belts have saved an estimated 374,196 lives. While Indiana’s seat belt usage rate is above the national average of 90.7 percent, more than half of the people who were killed in motor vehicle crashes last year were not buckled up.
Indiana has a primary seat-belt law, meaning that police officers may ticket unrestrained drivers or passengers, even if no other traffic violation has taken place. Children under eight must be properly restrained in a federally approved child or booster seat.
For safety tips from NHTSA, go to NHTSA.gov.