As the Labor Day holiday approaches, highway safety professionals and advocates across the nation will join forces to keep drunk drivers off the roads and save lives. The Tangipahoa — Reshaping Attitudes for Community Change Coalition is participating in this initiative and spreading the word to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, a news release from the organization said.
The National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is a nationwide enforcement mobilization campaign which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed and safety agencies from across the nation support, the release said. The campaign runs through Labor Day, Sept. 1 this year. TRACC’s Law Enforcement Taskforce partners have already laid out plans to band together for DWI checkpoints and saturation patrols during this time. The TRACC Coalition has continued collaboration with local law enforcement agencies and other community agencies to make the highways safe for Tangipahoa Parish citizens. The TRACC Coalition has received a “Safe Community” grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to help supplement and support the efforts of law enforcement taskforce partner agencies, the release said. TRACC is using the money to provide medical professionals to conduct “no refusal” DWI tests.
During no refusal enforcement, drivers who refuse breath testing must submit blood to be tested for alcohol. These DWI operations are made possible through Louisiana Highway Safety Commission’s Drive Sober Special Wave Grant, the release said.
In Tangipahoa Parish, as well as the rest of America, anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher is considered legally impaired.
According to crash reports listed yearly by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, there were 251 alcohol-related vehicle fatalities in 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.
Residents can report unsafe drivers from their cell phones by dialing *577 from any mobile phone. For information, call Tangipahoa Parish and the TRACC Coalition at (985) 748-3211 or email tracc@ tangipahoa.org.