Carnival season brings focus on impaired driving
Law enforcement officers have beefed-up patrols across the state and will arrest people who drink and drive during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement wave through Feb., according to Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman.
“Drinking and driving is no longer considered part of the Carnival culture in Louisiana,” Freeman said. “The latest statistics show people are getting the message that impaired drivers are a danger to themselves and to everyone on the road. But, for those individuals who insist on making bad choices, we have committed resources to get impaired drivers off the road.”
In 2018 — the latest year for which complete statistics are available — two people died, and 66 people were injured in alcohol-involved crashes in Louisiana from the Friday before Mardi Gras through Fat Tuesday, according to the LSU Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety. The two alcohol-related fatalities were the lowest since 2012, and the 66 injuries were the lowest in at least 20 years, according to CARTS.
“This tells us that fewer people are drinking and driving during the Carnival season,” Freeman said.
Carnival time in Louisiana is known worldwide as a huge party, a chance for people to have fun and indulge before the solemn period of Lent arrives on Ash Wednesday. While that tradition of revelry and drinking may always be a part of the Louisiana culture, it doesn’t mean that drinking and driving has to be part of the story, Freeman said.
“Today, people in Louisiana understand that impaired driving — from alcohol or drugs — simply is no longer an accepted form of behavior,” Freeman said. “And, we have made grant funds available for law enforcement agencies all over the state to emphasize that message with a trip to jail, if necessary.”