Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant cops are helping crack down on drunk driving this holiday season.
Both departments are participating in the Booze and Belts mobilization this winter. The campaign runs Dec. 7 - 16 as part of a statewide effort to reduce to zero the number of preventable traffic deaths in Wisconsin.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were approximately 35,000 convictions for drunken driving and nearly 85,000 convictions for failure to fasten safety belts.
Sturtevant Police Chief Sean Marschke said the main focus of the Booze and Belts campaign is to reduce drunk driving.
“It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is,” Marschke said. “If you’ve had too much to drink, you’re a danger to yourself and others.”
Nearly 3,000 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes last year, while 225 people were killed according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Tim Zarzecki is in favor of the campaign, and thinks any effort to make the roads safer is good.
"Since the campaign started, our officers have been more aggressive and active on the roads," he added.
Both chiefs have seen an increase in traffic stops and, subsequently, tickets being handed out.
Booze and Belts is timed right because with the holiday season in full swing, many holiday parties can lead to unsafe driving.
Marschke said last weekend his officers had a couple of traffic stops that resulted in OWI’s. Both drivers were at a holiday party before taking the wheel, and, fortunately, they were stopped and didn’t hurt anyone.
Marschke hopes the Booze and Belts campaign will make people aware that although it’s important to have fun, it is also important to be safe.
“Making it public that we are putting extra attention on traffic violations such as OWI and seatbelt enforcement maybe will make people aware when they are at these holiday parties to watch their intake of intoxicants,” Marschke said. “And if they do consume more than what is safe to be able to operate a motor vehicle that they’ll have a designated driver.”
The ultimate goal in the state of Wisconsin is to not have any preventable traffic deaths. Marschke thinks it is a goal to strive for, and that “Zero in Wisconsin” is the only acceptable number.
“Even if we have one fatality in the state, that’s unacceptable because some family is missing a family member and that person's life was cut short,” he said.