The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown has begun and will continue until New Year’s Day, as law enforcement locally, statewide, and across the nation will be patrolling in greater numbers and for longer hours to arrest impaired drivers and get them off the road.
The Shawano County Sheriff’s Department and Shawano Police Department will be working in a collaborative effort to enforce the crackdown. Shawano County Chief Deputy George Lenzner says with many options available, he doesn’t see why people would choose to get behind the wheel after too many drinks.
“What’s neat about this year is we’re working collaboratively on the grant, and I think that it’s going to be more interesting for us to work together more,” said Lenzner. “I really don’t think there’s a reason to drive drunk at this point, with free cab rides and other rides available, and I’m hoping everybody makes a good decision to not drink and drive.”
Wisconsin State Patrol Regional Program Manager Mike Panosh notes that drunk driving is dangerous any time of the year, but the holiday season makes any drunk driving accidents particularly upsetting for the families that are involved.
“There’s nothing worse than a drunk driver that hurts themselves or someone else at this time of year,” said Panosh. “We’re just trying to get the message out, we’re trying to tell people in advance. It’s not a sting, it’s not some kind of thing where we’re hiding in the shadows. There’s going to be increased enforcement, they’re going to be looking for drunk drivers, and we just want everybody to enjoy the holiday season.”
While DUI checkpoints are illegal in the state of Wisconsin, law enforcement will be enforcing this crackdown through what they call saturation patrols that put an increased number of enforcement in a particular area. Local deputies assure that they still need probable cause to pull a vehicle over, and as long as people are obeying the laws of the road, they will be fine.
The goal isn’t necessarily to arrest more drunken drivers, but rather deter the drunk driving behavior. Last year in Wisconsin 190 people were killed because of drinking and driving and there were 24,000 convictions in Wisconsin alone in 2015.