To help deter impaired driving over the upcoming holiday period, state and local law enforcement throughout Wisconsin will patrol in greater numbers and for additional hours as part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

588 people died on Wisconsin roads in 2016. Many of those deaths were preventable, and they affect other lives and cause great pain to thousands of people throughout Wisconsin.

“Drivers impaired by alcohol, prescription medications or other drugs endanger everyone along our roadways,” said David Pabst, Director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) Bureau of Transportation Safety. “While law enforcement will make arrests and issue citations as necessary, the primary goal of these campaigns is to encourage voluntary compliance with laws designed to keep everyone safe.”

Along with statewide campaigns like “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” WisDOT uses dedicated federal funds to help coordinate 24 OWI task forces across Wisconsin that combine multiple law enforcement agencies to conduct high-visibility enforcement efforts. Task force activities occur year-round, are typically announced ahead of time, and often involve roadside signage and vests on officers informing the public that intensified enforcement of impaired driving laws is underway.

“December is a busy time on our nation’s roads and we want people to travel safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “We’re urging everyone to drive sober and plan a safe ride home before drinking at holiday celebrations and gatherings.”

WisDOT is offering a free Drive Sober mobile app which includes a blood alcohol estimator, designated driver selector, and find-a-ride feature that uses a smart phone’s GPS to locate alternative transportation. Since its launch in February 2013, over 73,760 people have accessed the app. The U.S. Department of Transportation also has a similar SaferRide app.

“To help ensure a safe, happy holiday season, we’re reminding all motorists to buckle up, drive at an appropriate speed, be patient, and be sober and alert behind the wheel.”

Every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes. That averages one person every 50 minutes in 2016. Drunk-driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades, however, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. In 2010, the most recent year for which cost data is available, these deaths and damages contributed to a cost of $44B per year.

As part of the national “New Drive Sober or Get Pulled” ad campaign is a 360-degree virtual video experience, where the user is virtually transported to the scene of a drunk driving crash and interacts with victims, police, and EMTs.

Drunk driving deaths in 2016

Deaths in distraction-related crashes

Number of lives lost on U.S. roadways in 2016

Lives saved by minimum-drinking-age laws between 1975-2016


U.S. Department of Transportation