Law Enforcement Out In Force — Don’t Drink And Drive This St. Patty’s Weekend

Date posted - March 17, 2012

This being the Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, northwest Iowa law enforcement officers would probably be out in force anyway, but there is a special traffic enforcement project going on.
The Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau says that roughly 250 law enforcement agencies from around the state are on the roads this weekend for this year’s second special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP) wave. They are looking not only for drunk drivers and safety belt violators but for all traffic violations.
Sgt. Nate Huizenga from the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office tells us about the program.
Several northwest Iowa law enforcement agencies take part in the program — some of them as a condition of grants they are receiving from the state.
In northwest Iowa, the agencies that we know of that are participating include the Sioux, Osceola, and Dickinson County Sheriff’s Offices, and the police Departments in Sheldon, Sanborn, Paullina, Rock Valley, and Rock Rapids.
Iowa’s sTEP Coordinator Randy Hunefeld says that all law enforcement agencies in the state, whether big or small, need to be proactive with their traffic safety efforts and constantly continue to educate and enforce traffic laws to change driver behavior.
The theme of this sTEP wave is “Don’t Press Your Luck, Drive Sober, and Remember to Buckle Up”. Those of course are the two things the officers are focusing on the most.
In 2011, Iowa recorded 363 traffic fatalities. This is a 66-year record low, but it represents nearly one life lost each and every day. While this decreased number is far better than the 412 fatalities Iowa averaged during the previous five years, it is still an enormous tragedy, says Hunefeld.
He also says during last year’s March 2011 sTEP enforcement wave there were 242 participating agencies (167 city police departments, 72 county sheriff’s offices and three state agencies) that reported activity resulting in 18,284 traffic citations and warnings being issued.
The next sTEP enforcement wave will be the two-week period that includes the Memorial Day Weekend — May 21 – June 3, 2012, during the National Click It or Ticket campaign.
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