Police warn against impaired driving

By JEAN L. KAESS jkaess@daily-review.com

In addition to not being impaired while driving this holiday season, police are asking drivers to plan plenty of time to reach destinations and always make sure that drivers remain attentive to the task at hand.
Tfc. Stephen Hammons of the Louisiana State Police said, “One of the leading causes for crashes throughout Acadiana is driver inattentiveness.”
Designating a driver when planning to drink and wearing a seatbelt are typical holiday warnings, but Hammons added that drivers need to find ways to reduce distractions and make sure they leave in plenty of time.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert said that if anything is hindering traffic, the department will let the public know as soon as possible via the news media and social media.
“While residents of St. Mary are enjoying the holiday with friends and family, the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office will be on patrol to help ensure a safe and happy holiday in communities and high traffic areas across the parish. Enjoy the season, but keep it safe,” Hebert said.
The sheriff advised drivers to exercise patience on the roadways, and take breaks when driving long distances.
“Our patrol division will be on the lookout for erratic and impaired driving. The public can assist in helping to keep the roadways safe by reporting dangerous driving to the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office, their local police agency or state police,” Hebert said.
Law enforcement agencies from across Louisiana have teamed up to participate in Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, a statewide and national campaign designed to save lives over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday.
During the 2012 Christmas and New Year’s holiday period, 12 people were killed and more than 1,300 were injured in highway crashes in Louisiana. Alcohol use was a factor in more than half of last year’s highway fatalities during the end-of-the-year holiday.
This year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will be in effect through Jan. 1.
“For many Louisiana people, this season is filled with back-to-back parties and long road trips to visit friends and family,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “The combination of more vehicles on the road and increased alcohol consumption can result in greater chances of being involved in a crash.”
Col. Mike Edmonson, state police superintendent, said troopers will do their part to keep Louisianans safe.
“Nothing can be more devastating than the tragedy of losing a loved one due to impaired driving — especially during these holidays,” Edmonson said. “Throughout the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, troopers, along with our law enforcement partners, will be doing our part to keep the highways safe.”
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Department can be reached at 985-384-1622 or 337-828-1960. For state police, call *LSP (*577) from any cell phone.
Drivers should always call 911 in the event of an emergency.
We ask everyone to partner with us and make the right decision by not drinking and driving. When we say, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, we mean it.”
In this state in 2012, police made more than 27,500 driving while intoxicated arrests. Alcohol was a factor in 41 percent of Louisiana fatal crashes as well. Young adults are among those at greatest risk for driving impaired, and males make up an overwhelming majority of drivers killed in alcohol-related crashes, Edmonson said.
Louisiana laws provide significant penalties for impaired drivers, especially repeat offenders. One law imposes 15-day jail sentences on people caught driving while their licenses are suspended for a previous DWI violation. Another measure suspends for one year licenses of suspects who refuse to take a blood alcohol concentration test. A 2008 law requires some DWI offenders to install ignition interlocks in their vehicles. A first-offense DWI arrest can cost a driver more than $1,000 in fines, court costs, attorneys’ fees and increased insurance premiums.
The St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Department can be reached at 985-384-1622 or 337-828-1960. For state police, call *LSP (*577) from any cell phone.
Drivers should always call 911 in the event of an emergency.

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