With summer winding down, one may be thinking of throwing together a last minute celebration, maybe hosting a back yard barbecue or travelling to a destination for a long awaited vacation, to commemorate the upcoming holiday weekend.

But for police, this time of year means anything but relaxing as officers keep a much closer eye on the roads to watch for something that could have a negative impact on the holiday fun: those who are driving impaired because of alcohol of drug use as a part of the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Initiative.”

The program runs from Aug. 17 through Sept. 3 as a way to watch for those who are driving impaired and keeping the roads safe. Chief of Police Tim Becker said officers will be added on over time to provide an “extra set of eyes” during that time frame, all of it covered by a grant from the Bureau of Transportation. That means those driving about the state may see an increase in police presence throughout the month heading into Labor Day. That also includes Reedsburg.

“We want them to know we are out there and we’ll see you before you see us normally,” he said.

While the area is a destination for tourists, Becker said officers with the Reedsburg police department will mainly see local residents traveling to and from events driving back home driving impaired. Besides drunken driving, Becker said drugged driving has also become common, which he explained is driving under the influence of illegal narcotics or prescription medication.

While Becker said drugged driving misses the smell of alcohol, the symptoms are “very similar” to drunken driving.

“You’ll see the lethargic behavior, the glassy bloody shot eyes, the slurred speech, etc…,” Becker said.

Last year in Wisconsin, alcohol related crashes caused 161 deaths and more than 3,000 injuries, according to a press release from the Reedsburg Police Department. Chief of Police Tim Becker said the there were six OWIs issued in Reedsburg during the last years campaign. He added year-to-date results were at 46 OWIs issued, compared to 45 last year.

Instead of getting behind the wheel, Becker encourages people to plan their night with a designated driver or call ahead to schedule a ride with Bar Buddies in Reedsburg, a free SAFE ride home program, at 608-495-9202.

“That’s all it really takes is a little bit of pre-planning and you’ll be able to safely enjoy the Labor Day weekend,” Becker said.

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

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