Holiday enforcement campaign nets arrests, seat belt violations

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The Gary Police Department recently announced the results of the 2020 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday enforcement mobilization, which began mid-December and lasted through the first of the year. During the 17-day enforcement period. Twenty-three seat belt citations were written and 14 arrests were made for driving while intoxicated.

One individual was taken into custody for Felony OWI and for being a Habitual Traffic Violator. Fifteen drivers were cited for driving in excess of 20 miles an hour over the speed limit even in inclement weather conditions with compromised road surface conditions.

More than 200 state and local law enforcement agencies participated in this year’s holiday enforcement campaign, which was funded by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

“Driving sober, buckling up and avoiding distractions are easy things you can do to stay safe on the road,” Lieutenant Dawn Westerfield said. “Even beyond the holiday travel season, we’ll be watching and will continue to reinforce this message.”

The extra patrols were conducted to improve road safety during the holiday season – one of the deadliest times of the year for the nation’s roads.

According to NHTSA, during the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods in 2018, there were more drunk-driving-related fatalities (285) than during any other holiday period that year in the U.S. In Indiana, there were 415 alcohol-related crashes, resulting in 105 injuries and 11 fatalities in December of 2019.

“What’s so disheartening to think about is that every one of those fatalities could’ve been prevented,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Whether you’re going out for dinner and drinks or a casual get together with friends, plan ahead and make arrangements. There’s no excuse for driving under the influence.”

While impaired driving was a focus of the campaign, officers were also on the lookout for unbuckled motorists.

Indiana’s seat belt usage rate continues to be above the national average at 94.6 percent. Despite this, unbuckled motorists made up more than half of the people who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019.

“Wearing a seat belt drastically improves your chances of surviving or walking away from a crash,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director. “It takes less than a second to put on and could save your life.”

Although the zero-tolerance mobilization is over, the department encourages motorists to drive sober, buckle up and pay attention to the road year-round.

In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and license suspension for up to one year.

Additionally, the state has a primary seat belt law, which allows law enforcement officers to stop and cite drivers and passengers for failing to wear a seat belt. Drivers can also be cited for each unbuckled passenger under the age of 16. Children under eight must be properly restrained in a federally approved child or booster seat.

To learn more about Gary Police Department visit: www.gary.gov.

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