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“Drunk driving is preventable:” Task force works to combat intoxicated drivers this New Year’s Eve

MILWAUKEE --  The message coming out of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office is clear: There is zero tolerance for reckless driving, and driving under the influence. Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt on Friday, December 29th announced that there will be extra patrols in Milwaukee County through Monday, January 1st to combat intoxicated drivers.

"We highly encourage you to drive safely. Take care of your family. Act responsibly," said Acting Sheriff Schmidt.

Acting Sheriff Schmidt said the Southeast Wisconsin Multi-Jurisdictional Impaired Driving Task Force would work to combat intoxicated drivers -- including those impaired by alcohol and drugs.

"Enhanced saturation patrols will be out on the freeway over the holiday weekend to focused on speed, reckless driving and distracted driving," Acting Sheriff Schmidt said.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were 10,497 drunk driving-related deaths in 2016. Of those deaths, 193 happened in Wisconsin. There were also nearly 3,000 alcohol-related injuries in the state.

2017 YTD OWI Arrests map

"The task force has found that the average prohibited alcohol concentration on the people we stop is .15. That is nearly twice the legal limit of the .08," Schmidt said.

In addition to finding a designated driver for you and your friends, the acting sheriff proposed several other ways people can get home safe.

"Drunk driving is preventable, but you have to plan ahead. There are many options for you to get home safely this holiday weekend. You can call a cab, Uber, Lyft, or the Milwaukee County Transit System will be offering free bus rides after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 31st," said Acting Sheriff Schmidt.

There are several organizations that want to help you get home safely this weekend:

  • Ring in the New Year responsibly with a safe ride home from Miller Lite Free Rides. For the 30th year in a row, the free service will be offered on Sunday, December 31 on all Milwaukee County Transit System buses, beginning at 8 p.m. until end of regular service, with extended service on select MCTS bus routes until 4 a.m. Miller Lite Free Rides are provided in partnership with the Milwaukee County Transit System.
  • Lyft and the Tavern League of Wisconsin are teaming up with code to give discounted rides on New Year's Even through 4:00 a.m. Monday, January 1st.
  • WisDOT also offers a free Drive Sober mobile app which includes a blood alcohol estimator, designated driver selector, and find-a-ride feature that uses a smart phone’s GPS to locate alternative transportation. Since its launch in February 2013, over 73,760 people have accessed the app.

Having a good time on New Year's Eve  doesn't mean anything if someone gets hurt on the drive home.

Every person who gets pulled over during the New Years holiday weekend will receive a card from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office explaining the biggest factors that contribute to crashes and potential reasons why they pulled you over.