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Holiday OWI, traffic enforcement period continues through New Year

The holiday season is a time when people have a lot going on, from workplace events to neighborhood get-togethers and family parties. Alcohol is ubiquitous, and some people will indulge too much before driving.

According to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, 800 people died in drunk-driving accidents last December alone. Over 10,000 people died over the course of the year.

In Iowa, the Department of Transportation says that there have already been more than 300 traffic fatalities in 2019.

There is a nationwide push to crack down on drunk driving this holiday season, and Iowa is no exception. This year, the Iowa State Patrol is focusing on an initiative called "S.I.D.E. With Us."

The initials in "S.I.D.E." stand for:

  • Seatbelt enforcement
  • Intoxicated or impaired drivers
  • Distracted drivers
  • Excessive speed

These are the four areas of focus for the ISP this December. The ISP and local law enforcement agencies will partner up for tactics such as saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints.

Make a safe travel plan and watch out for inclement weather, too

To avoid an OWI, the best choice is not to drink at all before driving. Next best is to make a sober travel plan before you become intoxicated. Alcohol affects your judgment, which can make it hard to come up with a plan.

Make sure you have everything you need in place. For example, make sure you have downloaded the Lyft or Uber app or save the phone number of a local taxi service in your phone. Find the app for public transportation and know how to use it. Or, designate a sober driver and make sure they agree not to drink at all.

A spokesperson for the Iowa State Patrol also emphasized the need to plan around inclement weather because many people get frustrated when the weather demands slow travel speeds. This can lead to dangerous risk-taking behind the wheel.

"Make sure to travel safe. Plan those travel plans ahead of time. So if there's any inclement weather, give yourself enough time to get to that destination. But take your time, get to that destination safely. Because we want everybody to be safe and enjoy this time of year," the spokesperson said.

So, to stay safe this holiday season, buckle up, avoid drinking and distractions, and slow down.

If you do make a mistake, you could be arrested for OWI. Don't panic but take action. Contact an experienced OWI defense attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

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