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Celebrating this Fourth of July weekend? Law enforcement officials will be out looking for impaired drivers

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Consider this your warning: Hundreds of law enforcement officials from more than two dozen agencies will be driving our roads this holiday weekend in search of those who are driving under the influence. There's word those efforts are making a difference -- but there are also some sobering numbers to consider as well.

27 agencies from Milwaukee and Waukesha counties will be monitoring our roadways.

They are concerned the combination of the fireworks, Summerfest, and drugs and alcohol could make the holiday weekend a deadly one.

Squad cars hit the roads on Thursday, July 3rd -- prepared for the kind of holiday traffic that can be far more dangerous than any fireworks.

Dozens of law enforcement officials listened to orders during a roll call held in the street on Thursday afternoon as part of the Southeastern Wisconsin OWI Task Force.

"Our mission is to stop, test and arrest as many impaired drivers as possible," a law enforcement official said at the roll call.

"If we could get the Legislature to work as hard as these men and women do to do something about drunk driving, things would be a lot better," Paul Jenkins said.

Jenkins was on hand for Thursday's roll call.

Jenkins daughter, Jennifer Bukosky, her daughter and her unborn daughter were killed by an impaired driver in April of 2008.

The Oconomowoc crash badly injured Sarah Gibbs' sister, who was in the car at the time of the collision.

"There's no words. There's nothing that can express in words how we feel and how the Jenkins family feels -- how it impacts a family," Sarah Gibbs said.

Thursday was the first time Gibbs spoke to the media.

After the crash, legislators promised tougher laws.

In the years following, repeat offenders would see increased penalties -- but in most first-time OWI cases, offender still only receive a citation.

"Not much has changed for the first time offender, unfortunately," Jenkins said.

Law enforcement officials say in 2003, 387 people were lost in alcohol-related fatalities. In 2013, that number was down to 185.

Officials say those numbers show progress, but that is tempered by what the Task Force sees during their efforts.

Since September, they say for every 19 cars pulled over, about one driver is under the influence, and that's one too many.

"There will be hundreds of officers on deployment through this weekend looking for impaired drivers and remove them from the road," a law enforcement official said.

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