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Drive sober campaign in force through Labor Day

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s office is joining law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin, during the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, now through Labor Day.

“About every three hours in Wisconsin, someone is injured or killed in an alcohol-related crash,” said Sheriff James Kowalczyk. “This is not about stopping or arresting motorists. This is about saving lives and preventing needless tragedies, by encouraging drivers to be safe and responsible.”

Last year in Wisconsin, there were 6,058 alcohol-related crashes that injured 2,918 people and resulted in 140 deaths (about 1/4 of all traffic fatalities). While alcohol-impaired drivers remain a concern, a growing problem involves drugimpaired drivers – people whose ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is compromised by legal or illegal drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications.

To deter impaired driving, Wisconsin currently has 5,223 law enforcement officers trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). ARIDE training helps officers detect potentially impaired drivers and prevent serious crashes. There are also 310 highly-trained drug recognition experts – among the most in the nation.

In addition, there are 23 multi-jurisdictional, high-visibility OWI enforcement task forces that operate year-round across the state.

The following is how citizens can help:

• If planning to celebrate, identify a sober designated driver. Never allow someone else to get behind the wheel impaired.

• If driver is suspected of impairment, safely call 911. Be prepared to provide as much detail as possible about the driver, vehicle and location.

• Download the free “Drive Sober” mobile app from the WisDOT website. Among its functions, the app includes a “find a ride” feature to help locate transportation alternatives. Since its launch on Labor Day of 2013, about 75,000 people have accessed the app.

• Some taverns and restaurants have programs to provide patrons with a safe ride home.

“Drivers impaired by alcohol or other drugs risk the safety of everyone along our roadways,” said Kowalczyk. “During the Drive Sober campaign and throughout the year, our goal is to help ensure all travelers reach their destinations safely.”