LCSO cracking down on drunk driving as holidays approach

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is holding a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss efforts to stop impaired driving, which regularly ramps up heading into the holiday season and rose nationwide last year. Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving will also be there.

Trish Routte, coordinator of SWFL Crime Stoppers, says the first step in prevention is having a ride plan and sticking to it.

“Don’t wait until you’re at the bar,” Routte said. “Don’t wait until you’re at a friend’s house and you’ve had a couple cocktails and then try to think of, ‘How am I gonna get home tonight?’ Take that… get that off the plate. Get that out of the way before you do anything at all, and, just like you’re getting dressed—you know, picking out a nice outfit to wear, doing your make up—make sure that part of the getting-ready process is having that plan.”

Routte says there will be people who say it’s not worth paying for an Uber or Lyft, but if it could save a life, she says it’s more than worth it.

Lori Burke, with MADD, says the day before Thanksgiving is known for a record number of deaths due to impaired driving, and that isn’t the only troubling trend.

“Here’s the main thing: Last year, we saw a 9% increase in drunk driving deaths… even though miles per vehicle driven was down by 13%, so when you think about that… it’s incredible,” Burke said. “This year, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration just came out with new numbers: In the first half of this year, we’ve seen an 18.4% increase in the number of fatalities on our roads across the nation.”

Burke says you can expect deputies and police out in force, as well as DUI checkpoints. If you get pulled over for DUI, you can count on jail time and a hefty fine.

“We want to encourage people to do the right thing, to make the right decision” Burke said. “Because the thing with impaired driving is that it really just takes [one] person to make a personal decision.”

Reporter:Emma Heaton
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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