Law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin will boost patrols in the next few weeks as part of a national effort to end a deadly and preventable crime on the roads.
The Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP) is joining the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign from Wednesday, August 18 through Labor Day. The goal is not just to make arrests, but to avoid injuries and deaths.
“What makes these deaths so tragic is that they are preventable,” Wisconsin Secretary-designee of Transportation Craig Thompson said. “They result from the terrible decision to get behind the wheel while impaired. We hope the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will make drivers think twice before they make a mistake that costs someone their life.”
Alcohol contributed to more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities last year in Wisconsin.
Drug-impaired drivers are also putting people in danger on the roads. Last year, there were 2,250 drug-related crashes that caused 80 deaths. That’s up from 1,749 crashes and 59 deaths in 2019.
Law enforcement agencies are dedicated to ending impaired driving, but they need help from every driver, every day.
“Our daily mission is to protect travelers on our highways and eliminate the risks of impaired driving, but safety is everyone’s responsibility,” WSP Superintendent Anthony Burrell said. “We’re asking drivers to choose safety as the summer travel season wraps up. Together we can save lives.”
Agencies are using specially trained officers to combat impaired driving during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, including multi-jurisdictional enforcement task forces. State Patrol officers will work with a team in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.
WSP’s Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are also called on by communities to help in impaired driving cases. The WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety has operated the DRE program for almost 30 years, certifying officers to identify and apprehend drug-impaired drivers. 50 of the state’s 72 counties have at least one DRE.
In addition, the State Patrol is training all troopers and inspectors in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). ARIDE helps officers more effectively observe drivers suspected of being impaired and make an informed decision on whether to arrest.
Resources are available to help eliminate impaired driving. The “Drive Sober” mobile app is free to download to help drivers make a plan. The app includes a “find a ride” feature to help locate mass transit and taxi services.