To discourage impaired driving and support public safety, law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin will patrol in greater numbers for longer hours during the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday campaign that began on December 14 and continues through New Year’s Day.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is utilizing federal funds to support the stepped-up law enforcement efforts, public education and outreach.

“The goal of this federal, state and local initiative is to prevent needless tragedies along our roadways and help ensure that everyone has a safe, enjoyable holiday season,” said Dave Ross, WisDOT Secretary. “We appreciate all those who will be working over the holidays to serve and protect the public. Motorists can do their part by buckling up, watching their speed and being patient and alert every trip.”

Members of the public are encouraged to download the free “Drive Sober” mobile app from the WisDOT website. It includes a “find a ride” feature to help locate transportation alternatives. Some taverns and restaurants also have “Safe Ride” programs to provide patrons with a ride home.

To combat the problem, Wisconsin currently has 25 multi-jurisdictional, high-visibility OWI enforcement task forces that operate year-round across the state. About 3,800 law enforcement officers trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) are deployed to help detect and remove impaired drivers from roadways. In addition, the state now has 292 highly-trained Drug Recognition Experts, among the most in the nation.

The public is asked to help by identifying a sober designated driver if a group plans to celebrate together. No one should ever be allowed to get behind the wheel while impaired. Also, if a driver is suspected of driving while impaired, it is a matter of public safety to call 911. Be prepared to provide as much detail as possible about the driver, vehicle and location.

Last year in Wisconsin, alcohol-related crashes resulted in 169 deaths and more than 3,000 injuries. Also last year, there were over 24,200 OWI convictions in Wisconsin. While alcohol-impaired driving remains a concern, Wisconsin and many other states see a growing challenge with drugged drivers – people whose ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is compromised by drugs including prescription or over-the-counter medications and illegal narcotics.