Police in Kansas are doing what they can to avert tragedy this Christmas.
“We know that the holiday season can be a very busy time of year,” said Chief Adam Weingartner, Ottawa Police Department. “We want to ensure you and your families remain safe and responsible as you go about your various activities.”
Thursday through Jan. 1, the Ottawa Police Department will join many other police agencies across the state, including the Kansas Highway Patrol, in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over traffic enforcement campaign. This activity is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
In comparison with other holidays, the New Year’s period outranks most of the other holidays in number of crashes in which at least one of the drivers is impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs, according to KDOT. These drivers endanger not only themselves, but also others they share the vehicle and road with — such as their passengers, other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
On average, across Kansas three persons are injured every day and one person is killed every three days in alcohol and other drug-related crashes. Furthermore, these crashes tend to be more severe. Vehicle occupants in such crashes are over 2½ times more likely to be injured or killed than those involved in crashes where alcohol or other drugs were not a factor.
Over the week following Christmas, it is projected that 250-300 drivers will be arrested for Driving Under the Influence across the state. A DUI arrest and conviction results in jail, the suspension or permanent revocation of a driver’s license, a fine of $500 to $2,500, participation in an alcohol or other drug treatment program and, where alcohol is involved, the purchase and installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle. (This device prevents the vehicle from starting if more than a hint of alcohol is present in the driver’s breath). All of this is in addition to thousands of dollars more for bail, court costs and attorney fees.
“If you are going to be drinking any amount of alcohol, don’t even consider driving home," said Sgt. Casey Gillmore, Ottawa Police Department. "Arrange to ride with a non-drinking acquaintance. Don’t let pride or concerns for your convenience endanger your life and the lives of innocent others.
“Drivers, always wear your seat belt and don’t move the vehicle until each person riding with you is buckled in; it is the law. You will live with the consequences of your decisions — good or bad — for the rest of your life.”