‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign planned for Vidalia

Published 12:11 am Friday, August 8, 2014

VIDALIA Vidalia Police Department officers will be keeping an extra eye out for impaired drivers starting next week during a citywide effort to curb drunk driving.

The VPD will be participating in a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign from Aug. 15 to Sept. 1, organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The department received a $5,000 grant through the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to pay for additional officers to work overtime hours and patrol for drunk drivers, Chief Arthur Lewis said.

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“Keeping the residents of Vidalia safe is always our No. 1 priority, and this is just another one of the ways we can do that,” Lewis said. “Drunk driving is a serious issue that we need to work to eliminate in our community.”

The additional officers that will rotate through the patrol duties, Lewis said, will be strictly looking for impaired drivers and not responding to other calls.

“Their job while they are working these patrols is to look for anything that stands out to them as a drunk driver,” Lewis said. “We’ll have plenty of other officers on duty to respond to the routine calls, but these officers will only be patrolling for that.”

Apart from the patrols throughout the nearly month-long period, VPD officers will also setup two roadblocks during that time at the intersection of Louisiana 131 and the entrance to Riverview RV Park.

The first roadblock will be Aug. 16, and the second will be Aug. 23, Lewis said.

The department’s 11 officers that are certified to perform field sobriety tests will work the roadblocks, Lewis said, along with assistance from Louisiana State Police Troop E officials.

Both roadblocks will be from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Each year more than 10,000 people die on the road because of drunk driving, and one in three traffic fatalities are in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, according to the NHTSA.

Lewis said he hopes the campaign will encourage area residents to think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car after they’ve been drinking.

“This campaign is not just about making arrests, we’re trying to save lives,” Lewis said. “Our goal is to reduce drunk driving year-round, not just during this time.

“We need to put a stop to this deadly epidemic.”