Fewer DUIs over holiday weekend in Michiana - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Fewer DUIs over holiday weekend in Michiana

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Holidays are always a time for festivities, but sometimes the fun gets out of hand. Holiday weekends often come with a fair share of reckless behavior like drunk driving.  This Fourth of July was different though. South Bend Police Department only arrested three people for DUI's this holiday weekend. Captain Phil Trent with SBPD says that's a lot lower than average.

Some might think that fewer DUI arrests means that maybe drunk drivers just aren't getting caught. However, Lt. Tim Williams at the Mishawaka Police Department says police in the area have been stepping up efforts to catch drunk drivers for more than a year.  He is the lead coordinator of a recent initiative called the St. Joseph County Traffic Safety Partnership.

The effort aims to increase traffic enforcement, and public awareness of traffic safety.  "That partnership's important because we receive overtime grants for officers to work overtime to do extra traffic enforcement, just to focus on certain areas we're having problems with," said Lt. Williams.

Williams says overtime traffic officers aren't the only thing that has helped bring down the number of drunk drivers, media attention helps, too. He thinks that advertising sobriety checkpoints is a deterrent for drunk drivers. "That kind of tactic allows us to get that information out to the public." said Williams.

The partnership has also gathered public attention through local programs.  "We do programs like the Designated Driver, we tell them it's cheaper to pay for a cab than the actual bond to get out of jail for drunk driving and all the attorney fees and court fees after that."

Williams say one thing that could improve is motorcycle accident awareness. While DUI's are down, motorcycle accidents are still very high in St. Joseph County, so participants hope to focus more attention on this problem area.

The partnership currently has seven agencies participating, and plans to add the Roseland Police Department and North Liberty Police Department, come October 1. Once back to school season meets football season in mid-August, Williams said to keep an eye out for a sobriety check point announcement.

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