LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - For the next few weeks expect to see more police on the road in our area, especially at night. The "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign is a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation focused on cracking down on drunk driving.
The added Operating While Intoxicated enforcement is spanning across Wisconsin, including the La Crosse Police Department and the La Crosse County sheriff.
Now through Labor Day weekend, law enforcement from across the state will be using the Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over grant campaign to educate drivers.
"It's also hopefully inducing self-responsibility in people to realize, 'Hey there's other options out there. We can (get a) designated driver, we can look at the Tavern League Safe Ride Program,'" Sgt. Marte Peterson of the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department said.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says education and programming is already making quite an impact.
"We are seeing a decline in OWI arrests over the past few years," Peterson said.
Over the past 10 years, the number of injuries resulting from alcohol-related crashes has dropped 59 percent. Stepped up enforcement through grants similar to this are helping save lives as well. Since 2003, fatalities involving alcohol have nearly been cut in half.
"We attribute that to (law enforcement) being out there on extra patrol, we attribute it to self responsibility. People are taking accountability and (being) responsible, realizing the repercussions of an OWI arrest," Peterson said.
Peterson says the ultimate goal is to not have any OWI arrests. He says officers are not out to spoil your fun, they want you to have fun and still be responsible.
"Setting up that designated driver prior to going out, realize there are safe ride programs, and sometimes you may just need to be responsible and be the designated driver yourself," Peterson said.
Peterson says the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign targets the final weeks of summer because there are many celebrations going on, people are traveling for vacations and people are trying to enjoy the nice weather before school starts up.
The campaign began Friday and will continue through Sept. 1. Expect increased patrol throughout the county and across the state every night.
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