Statewide effort to stop impaired drivers from ruining the holidays

Idaho street in Boise with Christmas lights.

As the holiday season approaches with joyous celebrations, the unfortunate reality across Idaho is that these festivities are often abruptly cut short by the devastating impact of impaired driving.

From Dec. 13 through New Year’s Day, over 50 Idaho law enforcement agencies will collaboratively engage in a national effort to remove impaired drivers from our roadways. Officers will actively patrol to safeguard the holidays, preventing impaired drivers from ruining the holidays for their own safety and that of others.

Colonel Kedrick Wills, Director of the Idaho State Police (ISP), emphasized the collective commitment to public safety, stating, “Embodying an unwavering dedication to public safety, law enforcement agencies across the region stand united in the collective responsibility of preventing impaired driving and saving lives. Our collaborative enforcement efforts serve as a potent deterrent, leaving no room for doubt that impaired driving is unacceptable. Make the right choice for the well-being of others – never drive impaired.”

To coincide with the launch of the statewide impaired driving enforcement campaign, a one-day regional summit on impaired driving took place at the Boise Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 13. The summit featured distinguished speakers from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and law enforcement experts from agencies throughout the state and the nation.

“Data reveals a concerning 14.2% increase in alcohol-related crash fatalities nationwide from 2020 to 2021, underscoring the critical importance of responsible driving behaviors,” explained Greg Fredericksen, NHTSA’s Region 10 Administrator. “NHTSA joins Idaho’s state agencies and local partners to launch a vital initiative featuring impactful public service messages like ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,’ emphasizing the urgent need to address the alarming surge in impaired driving incidents.”

According to data from the Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS), last year in Idaho there were 1,818 impaired driving crashes, and 110 people were killed.

“Driving under the influence is not an accident or a mistake. It is a choice and a crime,” said Dennis Maughan, MADD Regional Executive Director. “It not only puts the driver’s life at risk, but also endangers the lives of innocent pedestrians, passengers, and other drivers who share the road with them.”

OHS and law enforcement urge everyone celebrating this holiday season to include a plan for a sober ride home and to never drive impaired. Making a plan before drinking makes it easier to stick to once intoxicated.