Press release from La Porte County Sheriff’s Office:

While Independence Day will be in the middle of the week this year, deputies will be on the lookout for impaired drivers throughout the weekend leading up to the holiday.

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is taking part in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization to educate motorists about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. From June 30 until July 8, additional deputies will be on patrol with the primary goal of preventing tragedies previously seen around the July 4th holiday.

The high-visibility enforcement effort is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and administered through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).

“The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance for motorists who choose to operate while intoxicated,” said Captain Derek J. Allen. “Everyone knows the law: It is illegal to drink and drive. OWI is selfish and arrogant, and it endangers the drivers, their passengers, and other people on the road.”

About 37 people die in the U.S. in OWI crashes every day. That’s approximately one person every 39 minutes and more than 13,384 annually, according to NHTSA.

Of the 949 traffic fatalities that occurred last year in Indiana, 110, or 12 percent, were alcohol related. During the weekend around Independence Day alone, there were 11 fatal collisions with two involving a driver over the legal limit.

“Impaired driving is a serious problem that claims the lives of thousands of people each year in our state and nation. While increased enforcement efforts can help to reduce impaired driving, we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem,” said Devon McDonald, Executive Director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. “We need to work together to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and encourage people to make smart choices when they drink. If you are going to drink, please designate a sober driver or call a taxi. It is not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”

Impaired driving includes more than just alcohol. Drugs and even some over-the-counter medications can also cause impairment and can slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times on the road.

Deputies will be on the lookout for all forms of impairment, in which the consequences can include thousands of dollars in legal fees, increased insurance rates, loss of license, a criminal record and possible jail time.

To avoid those, plan a safe and sober ride home before going out. Even if only one drink is consumed, designate a sober driver or plan to use a rideshare service, public transportation, or taxi. Motorists that encounter an impaired driver on the road are encouraged to call 911.

This 4th of July and every day, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.