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TRACC: No refusal DWI will be enforced now thru Jan. 3

TRACC: No refusal DWI will be enforced now thru Jan. 3

Author: Action News 17/Monday, December 22, 2014/Categories: Front Page, Crime

The holiday season is right around the corner. As Americans prepare for festivities with family and friends, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to remind all drivers that it’s dangerous to drive after drinking. You have to choose your role before drinking begins: will you drink or will you drive? Remember, even if you only have a little bit to drink and think you’re “okay to drive,” you could still be too impaired to drive.

Drunk driving has become a national epidemic. Each year, drunk-driving crashes kill more than 10,000 people in America. That’s why the Tangipahoa – Reshaping Attitudes for Community Change (TRACC) Coalition is participating in spreading the word—Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over! The TRACC Coalition is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this holiday season, to reach out to all drivers with an important message about this deadly, preventable crime because Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

Let’s say you go to a holiday party, you stay a few hours and have a few drinks. When it’s time to go, you think to yourself, “I’m fine to drive. I’ve only had a few drinks, and I barely feel buzzed.” You get in your car and drive toward home.  This act places you at risk of facing the consequences of drunk driving.  Buzzed driving places you and others on the road in danger of a crash; or worse, death.   Designate a sober driver, BEFORE you get to the party.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year, filled with celebrations, time with loved ones and good cheer. But, the holidays can also be a deadly time to be on the road. Every year, thousands of Americans die as a result of alcohol-related car crashes.  TRACC is joining forces with local law enforcement, first responders, and highway safety partners during the holidays to remind people that drinking alcohol and driving do not mix. The National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign runs now thru January 3.

Don’t let holiday celebrations end tragically this year.  “Drinking and driving is never a good combination, and it’s just not worth the risk,” said Sheriff Daniel Edwards.  “Driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while intoxicated jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on our roads.  If you are going to drink, plan another way home before the celebration begins, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”

TRACC continues collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, such as State Police, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police, Hammond Police, and Ponchatoula Police as part of their Law Enforcement Taskforce to make our highways safe for the citizens of Tangipahoa Parish. The Coalition would like to remind the public that increased No Refusal Sobriety Patrols will be conducted throughout the parish during this holiday season.  The Taskforce partners have already laid out plans to band together for regular DWI saturation patrols during the month of December. The Coalition has received a “Safe Communities” grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to help supplement and support the efforts of our local law enforcement agencies. TRACC is using the funding to provide medical professionals to these agencies during the sobriety patrols to conduct “No Refusal” enforcement.

This latest enforcement strategy is called “No Refusal” because all suspected impaired drivers caught by enforcement who refuse breath testing will be subject to blood testing for alcohol. In Tangipahoa Parish, as well as the rest of America, anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher is considered legally impaired. However, many impaired drivers refuse to submit to BAC testing in an attempt to avoid the criminal sanctions they could face upon conviction.

According to crash reports listed yearly by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, there were 251 alcohol related vehicle fatalities in the state of Louisiana in 2011, and 6,826 DWI suspects refused a breath test that same year. The “No Refusal” enforcement is designed to address this issue by having law enforcement officials work in coordination with prosecutors and judges to quickly obtain “blood draw warrants” for drivers who refuse BAC testing. With the approval of a judge, anyone suspected of impaired driving who unlawfully refuses to provide a breath sample is subject to blood testing at the scene, a medical facility, or nearest jail facility. The program helps ensure that prosecutors obtain the scientific evidence needed to effectively pursue cases involving impaired driving.

 “The holidays should be a time for celebration, not tragedy,” Parish President, Gordon Burgess said.  “Please help us make Tangipahoa Parish’s roadways safe by never driving after drinking. Driving impaired can have life altering consequences, not only for the driver but also for passengers or other motorists.”

You can help by reporting unsafe drivers from your cell phone by dialing *577 from any mobile phone. If you would like more information on other ways you can get involved with the TRACC Coalition, call (985) 662-5795 or email tracc@tangipahoa.org.
 
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