IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Law enforcement officers throughout Idaho will be on the lookout for impaired drivers this weekend.
Nearly 60 different agencies including ISP, public safety agencies and the Office of Highway Safety will increase patrols through July 7 in an effort to keep families whole and roadways safe.
“If you know you’re going to be celebrating with alcohol, designate a driver, get an Uber or Lyft, or just call a sober friend," Office of Highway Safety Manager John Tomlinson said. “We want everyone to enjoy their Independence Day celebrations but we want you to do it safely so you can be here tomorrow. We can all do our part and keep us and everyone around us safe.”
Last year in Idaho, there were 36 crashes due to drunk and/or drugged driving during the week of the Fourth of July holiday, resulting in 46 injuries and four fatalities.
Nationwide impaired driving fatalities typically spike during holidays and the July Fourth holiday can be one of the deadliest of the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018 alone, 193 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July Fourth holiday period. Of those fatalities, 78 (40%) occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
To prevent these tragedies, ITD suggests the following:
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or use a ride sharing service to get home safely.
- Make arrangements for guests to stay overnight.
- Offer or choose non-alcoholic beverages.
- Always follow directions for use and read warning labels about driving or operating heavy machinery while taking medications.
- Wear a seat belt! It is not only the law, it is the best defense whenever you’re in a vehicle. Buckling up helps prevent injury and death if involved in a crash.
- If you see a suspected impaired driver use your cell phone in hands-free mode to call *ISP (that's STAR, I-S-P for Idaho State Police) or 1-800-233-1212.
- Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
“The dangers of impaired driving are completely preventable,” Tomlinson said. “Drugs and alcohol alter your judgment. You may think you’re fine in the moment which is why planning ahead to arrive and leave safely is imperative.”
Trooper Tauna Davis of ISP District 2 in Lewiston is another ISP LEL to the Office of Highway Safety, and will be part of the extra patrols in Central Idaho this weekend.
"This Fourth of July, the Idaho State Police wants to make sure the only red, white, and blue you see are the fireworks," Trooper Davis said. "Designate a sober driver so you don't have to spend the night celebrating your freedom behind bars."
Troopers want to remind drivers that impaired driving includes more than alcohol. Some prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs may also interfere with driving.