Holiday patrols to watch for impaired drivers

As the holiday season gets under way with festive parties and celebrations, ITD reminds motorists to make the season safer for everyone by not driving while impaired.

Using federal grant funds, the transportation department is partnering with Idaho law enforcement agencies to make highways safer through education campaigns and high-visibility impaired driving enforcement patrols beginning today (Dec. 17) and continuing through New Year's Day.

The effort is part of Idaho's Toward Zero Deaths goal to evenutally have no traffic deaths on Idaho's roads.

"Traffic deaths are not just numbers, they are family and friends lost," said Kevin Bechen, with ITD's Office of Highway Operations and Safety. "We want everyone to make it home safely after holiday celebrations. We're committed to doing everything we can to help keep families safe and whole."

While all law enforcement agencies throughout the state will be enforcing drunk-driving laws, 72 agencies including state police, sheriffs deputies and local agencies will participate in the overtime patrols. Officers will also be watching for seat-belt violations.

Last year, impaired driving contributed to 1,567 crashes on Idaho's highways and caused 65 fatalities.

"Whether you've had one or two drinks, or way too many, it's not worth the risk to you or your family," he said. "Not only do you risk injuring or killing yourself or someone else, but the financial costs of an arrest or crash are significant."

Bechen offered tips to make the holiday party season safer:

  • Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate a sober driver before you leave and give that person your keys.
  • If you are impaired, call a taxi or sober friend or family member to get you home safely. Many taxi services offer free or discounted rides to partygoers during the holiday season.
  • Promptly report drunk drivers to law enforcement. To contact the Idaho State Police, call *ISP.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take his or her keys and help make other safe travel arrangements.

Published 12-17-2010