Law enforcement warns it will be stepping up its efforts to curb impaired driving over the holiday season.
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) is partnering with law enforcement across Iowa to urge drivers to think twice before drinking and driving. December 15 – January 1, 2024, drivers will see officers working on a special high-visibility enforcement campaign to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.
More parties and festivities celebrating the season bring out more drunk drivers. In 2022, preliminary data shows 35% of Iowa’s fatal crashes involved an impaired driver. Last December, almost 1,100 drivers were charged with OWI on Iowa roads. About 25% of those were 2nd and 3rd offenses. Impaired drivers endanger both themselves and others. GTSB and law enforcement urge drivers to always plan before heading out to celebrate.
“Drunk driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal,” says Impaired Driving Program Administrator Todd Olmstead. “Drivers have a choice: follow the law and respect their fellow drivers by refraining from drunk driving, or make the choice to drive drunk, put others at risk, and risk their own mortality. We need a commitment from every driver to keep the roads free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe holiday.”
There are many options available to help impaired drivers get home safely, such as designating a sober driver or calling a taxi or rideshare. If available, use your community’s sober ride program. Remember: a few dollars spent on a ride is a lot cheaper than an OWI conviction, which can cost up to $10,000. Plan before you head out for the evening. If you see an impaired driver on the road, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement.
The Ottumwa Police Department wants community members to understand that it’s their first priority to keep people safe, so they’re asking the public to plan ahead if they know they’ll be out drinking.