Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Law out in force over the Fourth

Beer and barbecue are common ways to celebrate Independence Day, but beer and driving should not be part of the mix.

"Minden Police Department will be out, specifically looking for impaired drivers," Chief Steve Cropper said. "I would like to reinforce the message that if you drink over the holiday, please do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. Always have a designated driver.

"Drinking and driving do not mix," he continued. "So please be smart and stay alive. MPD wishes everyone a very happy and safe Fourth of July."

Webster Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Bobby Igo said that deputies will be on patrol as well.

"We're going to be beefing up some patrols and the Community Action Directed (CAD) boys are going to working some," he said. "We're going to be monitoring the highways, parish roads and back roads as we always do, trying to keep people safe.

"Obey the stop signs and obey the red lights," Igo continued, "because there may be people from out of town that are not aware of our one-way streets and our intersections. We just want to be seen and to monitor traffic the best that we can to keep the people safe."

According to Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, Fourth of July traffic fatalities jumped from two in 2009 and 2010 to seven in 2011. Of those seven, four were alcohol-related.

"It's a tragedy that so many of our holiday celebrations are marred by crashes involving impaired driving," Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said. "State Police troopers will be visible throughout the Fourth of July holiday with proactive patrols. We encourage all motorists to make responsible decisions and have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day celebration."

Edmonson said troopers will work hundreds of overtime hours, along with local law enforcement agencies, during the Fourth of July holiday. Enforcement efforts will include roving and saturation patrols, sobriety checkpoints and other enforcement methods.

LHSC executive director Lt. Col. John LeBlanc said that because Fourth of July celebrations often start during the day and last into the evening, the dangers from impaired drivers are even higher at night.

"The amount of alcohol that a person can consume during a day-long party can seriously compromise the motor skills he or she needs to drive safely," LeBlanc said. "Combine this with the fact that others may be out driving impaired and the increased dangers of driving at night and you have a potentially dangerous situation on the road.

"The solution is to stay away from alcoholic beverages if you're going to drive, but if you do drink, make sure you have a designated driver who has not been drinking."

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in Louisiana, with a first-offense arrest costing as much as $1,000 in fines, plus court costs and even jail time. An adult driver can be arrested in Louisiana if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher. The limit for drivers under 21 is .02 BAC.






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