Police watching for drunk drivers during St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness

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("OSP in the lights" by Oregon Department of Transportation, CC BY 2.0)

The Elkhart County Traffic Safety Partnership is teaming up with hundreds of law-enforcement agencies across Indiana on impaired-driving patrols ahead of St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Overtime traffic enforcement is funded through National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under age 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a driver’s license suspension for up to one year.

Impaired driving also includes prescription and illegal drugs. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or a second drug. Anyone taking a new or higher dose of a drug should speak with their doctor or avoid driving until they know the effect the medication could have.

As a state known for basketball hysteria, March is a time of celebration and fun in Indiana, with the addition of St. Patrick’s Day it is critical the motorists know the only way to celebrate, is responsibly. For this reason, officers in the Elkhart County Traffic Safety Partnership will be working day and night all across Elkhart County looking out for our fellow Hoosiers.

Drivers aged 21-44, particularly men 21 to 34, are more likely to be involved in alcohol-impaired crashes. Statistics and more information are in the most recent Crash Fact Book and Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fact Sheet that ICJI publishes with the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.

Sober driving tips

With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired as it endangers you and everyone else around you. Law enforcement recommends these 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.

Report impaired drivers

Impaired driving is three times more common at night than during the day. If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include:

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
Almost striking an object or vehicle
Turning abruptly or illegally
Driving on the wrong side of the road

Drivers should also watch for pedestrians who have had too much to drink. Lack of attention to surroundings puts pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

The luck of the Irish will not stop an impaired driver from being arrested or putting your loved ones in danger. Be a saint like St. Patrick and designate a sober driver, call a cab or use a ridesharing service.

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