UW-Eau Claire Police join 'Booze and Belts' campaignDecember 16, 2013
EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Police department is participating in the statewide Booze and Belts campaign from Dec. 13-21 to motivate motorists to drive sober and buckle up. At the same time, the UW-Eau Claire Center for Alcohol Studies and Education is conducting an informational campaign on campus to emphasize the message to students to find a sober ride home if they've been drinking.
"Fatal and serious injuries caused by traffic crashes are tragic any time of year, but they are even more devastating, especially for families, during the holiday season," said Sgt. Joel Field of the UW-Eau Claire Police. "To prevent needless deaths and injuries, our officers will be out in force during the Booze and Belts mobilization looking for unbuckled and impaired motorists as well as other unsafe driving behavior."
During mobilizations and throughout the year, law enforcement agencies are cracking down on impaired and unbuckled motorists. Last year in Wisconsin, there were approximately 27,000 convictions for drunken driving and nearly 105,000 convictions for failure to fasten safety belts.
"If you drive drunk, you are seriously jeopardizing your life and the lives of others on the road," Field said. "Even if you avoid a crash, you still are risking an arrest that will cause humiliation, huge fines, possible installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and perhaps even jail time.
"We also take safety belt enforcement seriously. Too many drivers and passengers are seriously injured or killed while being ejected from their vehicles or tossed around violently inside them during a crash," Field said.
The Booze and Belts mobilization is part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths to zero in Wisconsin.
"Our goal is voluntary compliance with traffic laws, so we urge you to make the responsible decision to buckle up and drive sober," Field said. But if you make an irresponsible decision, we will stop you and we won't give you a warning or a second chance."
CASE will support the Booze and Belts efforts with educational messages across campus reminding students that the holidays are a high-risk time for accidents involving an impaired driver.
"While students are home celebrating the holidays with their families and friends, we want them to remember some simple steps they can take to stay safe and out of trouble," said Peggy O'Halloran, CASE director. "It can be as easy as planning ahead, using a taxi or public transportation to get home, or calling a sober friend or family member for a ride."
O'Halloran said educational efforts by CASE appear to be making a difference. Since 2002, when CASE began tracking the number of students who report drinking and driving, that number has decreased every year, she said.
"We hope the information we provide this month, combined with the knowledge of increased enforcement by University Police, encourages all students to make the responsible choice to drive sober," O'Halloran said.
For more information on the Booze and Belts mobilization, contact Sgt. Joel Field at email@example.com or 715-836-2222.