Law enforcement: Don’t drink and drive

Apprehending impaired drivers priority one

August in Iowa … State Fair excitement, schools beginning a new year, and right around the corner will be Labor Day – the traditional end of summer. This is one of the busiest travel times of the year as many people try and squeeze in one more vacation. Others will host or attend end-of-summer social events where alcohol will be served. Regardless how one decides to observe the end of summer, local law enforcement want you to remember this: It is never acceptable to drink and drive. If your plans include activities where alcohol will be served, make sure you have a plan before arrival on how you’ll get home.

Labor Day weekend 2017 resulted in 10 fatalities in Iowa. That was the highest fatality count since 1995. Four of those 10 fatalities were alcohol related. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported during the 2016 holiday there were 433 crash fatalities nationwide with 36 percent involving drunk drivers. Almost one in five children — 14 and younger — killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes and 54 percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.

Lt. Rick Bellile of the Marshalltown Police Department said Marshalltown drivers typically range from 92 to 94 percent compliance on alcohol and seat belt compliance.

“Our goal is 100 percent,” Bellile said. “It is our duty — as well as that of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and Iowa Highway Patrol — to remove impaired drivers from roadways to prevent tragedies.”

Sgt. Ben Veren of the MCSO said seat belt non-compliance and impaired drivers are a major concern.

“Unfortunately, as of Wednesday there have been 187 traffic fatalities in Iowa this year,” Veren said. “While some may think that is not a large number, those killed were moms, dads, children, brothers and sisters. They were important to somebody. More than one third of the 187 were not wearing seat belts and there were a number of impaired drivers.

That is why we are out checking for seat belt and non-alcohol compliance.”

To combat end-of-summer alcohol related fatalities, the MPD, MCSO, along with law enforcement agencies in Iowa and across the nation will be stepping up enforcement from Aug. 17 through Sept. 3. said the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

They will especially be watching for impaired and unbelted drivers and there will be zero tolerance to noncompliant drivers.

The IDPS and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau remind all that drinking and driving is a choice, and it is a choice that should not be made.