Think before driving drunk this Labor Day holiday

September 1, 2009
Sept. 3
September 3, 2009

Dear Editor:

Motorists should be aware that this Labor Day marks the first holiday period during which Louisiana’s toughened penalties for certain DWI offenders are in effect.

To further help keep drunken drivers off the road, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is providing overtime grants to law enforcement agencies across the state to increase DWI patrols in the weeks leading to and including the long Labor Day weekend.

Highway safety experts are hoping that the new DWI penalties passed by the Legislature this year will save lives by removing impaired drivers from Louisiana’s roads.

The new laws provide heavier consequences for those arrested, especially for repeat offenders. Increased penalties under the new laws include automatic 15-day jail sentences on people caught driving while their licenses are suspended for a previous DWI, and suspend for one year – up from six months – licenses of people who refuse to take a DWI blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test.

The name of our Labor Day holiday campaign to keep roads safe is, “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” Like many other holiday periods, Labor Day in Louisiana usually ends with sad statistics.

Over the past four years an average of 6.5 motorists have been killed and 78 injured in alcohol-related crashes during the Labor Day holiday period.

Although driving while intoxicated is a high-risk activity that endangers the lives of innocent people, it is a frequently committed offense. More than 20,000 motorists were arrested for DWI in Louisiana in 2008, a year in which 449 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

As Louisiana cracks down on drunken drivers through tougher laws and enforcement, the consequences for being arrested and convicted for DWI become ever more serious.

Motorists should always keep in mind that “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” is more than a slogan – it’s a reality.

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc,

Executive Director, Louisiana

Highway Safety Commission