Drunk Driving Crackdown For Halloween

By: Jodi Baker Email
By: Jodi Baker Email

Halloween rivals New Year's Eve when it comes to drunk driving. Friday, La Vista police will hold a sobriety checkpoint, along with the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement agencies, to try and keep weekend partying in check.

Sarpy county has seen more than its share of drunk driving crashes and fatalities, which is why the Nebraska Office on Highway Safety has designated the county a priority, providing grant money to pay for officers' overtime.

"At this time of year, drinking and driving still seems to be going on, and we've got little kids on the street," said Jerry Beller of Omaha. Beller knows the damage an intoxicated driver can cause, all too well.

His brother, sister-in-law and two cousins were killed by a drunk driver nearly ten years ago on a road just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. They'd been driving back to Nebraska after a vacation.

"It seems like it happened two seconds ago," he said, "It's something you never forget. You'll never get over it."

He's grateful to see more checkpoint operations. "I think the law enforcement increase has made a difference in the number of DUI's today," said Beller.

In addition to the checkpoint Friday, somewhere along the Douglas-Sarpy county border, Sarpy County Lt. Russ Zeeb said, "The normal patrols will be out looking for drunk drivers, hoping everybody gets home safe and sound."

"It's a home Nebraska football game, too, the weekend before Halloween. So there's going to be a lot of traffic on the streets."

Zeeb urges parents to trick-or-treat with their children Monday evening, only crossing streets at intersections. Reflective clothing and glow sticks are also encouraged to increase children's visibility.

Beller, alongside Mothers Against Drunk Driving, helped lobby for tougher drunk driving penalties in New Mexico and Nebraska. The efforts were successful, with the unicameral passing a number of changes which take effect in January.

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