As your Sheriff and in partnership with state and local law enforcement, we are focused on your safety as you travel the roads this time of year. For that reason, we want to take this opportunity to pass along some helpful information.
During the holidays and into the new year, the number of travelers on our roads peaks as friends and family come together to celebrate. As a result of holiday gatherings, and because this season can unfortunately be difficult for some, drivers are more likely to be impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Drunk and drugged driving arrests are at their highest between Thanksgiving and the end of New Year’s weekend.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), one person in the United States dies every 48 minutes in a drunk driving crash, claiming more than 10,000 lives per year. In 2019, 106 people were killed in alcohol-related collisions in Indiana, accounting for 13 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities. The Indiana University Public Policy Institute reported in 2019 the highest percentage of fatal and incapacitating injuries happened most often between the hours of midnight and 4:00am, particularly on the weekends, with the highest hourly rates of impaired crashes occurring Sundays between 3:00am and 4:00am.
In addition to the risk of serious injury or death, drunk and drugged driving carries other serious consequences. If you are arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated: you will be handcuffed and taken to the police station; your car and your person will be searched; your car will be towed at your expense; you will be asked to take a certified breath test, and if you refuse, your license will automatically be suspended for one year; if you take a breath test and it shows that your blood alcohol content is .08% or more, your driver’s license may be suspended; and to be released from jail, you may have to post bail.
And those are just the consequences for arrest. If you are convicted: you will have to pay court costs and fees in excess of $300; you may receive a jail sentence; you may be fined; your license may be suspended; you may be required to attend drug and alcohol classes; and you may be required to submit to random drug screens. These possible penalties increase substantially for second and third-time offenses. On top of these very serious consequences, drivers under the influence put others at great risk of harm, and fatal accidents involving drugs or alcohol carry stiff penalties.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provides these tips on staying safe this season and throughout the year:
- Put safety before the party, plan ahead and always designate a non-drinking driver
- Never ride with someone who is impaired
- Choose to be the non-drinking designated driver
- Host parties that include mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages and provide alternate transportation or accommodations for guests who choose to drink
We hope everyone in the community has a fun and festive time celebrating safely this year. However, we encourage everyone to do so responsibly. The consequence for a poor decision could not only be costly and burdensome, it could also result in serious injury or death to you, a loved one, or someone else.
Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter