Law enforcement increasing patrols for Mardi Gras

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South

BATON ROUGE – Many Louisiana law enforcement agencies will be increasing patrols during the long Mardi Gras holiday in a coordinated effort to remove impaired drivers from the state's roads.

“Every year, Mardi Gras ranks as one of our state’s deadliest holidays in terms of highway crashes,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “During Mardi Gras 2012 our state experienced 537 crashes that involved injuries or fatalities, the highest in that category for any of the eight holidays for which we compile data.”

Ten people were killed and 953 were injured in crashes during the 2012 Mardi Gras holiday. The Memorial Day and Thanksgiving holidays experienced slightly more deaths in 2012, but they did not match the total number of fatality and injury crashes that occurred during Mardi Gras.

The Louisiana Highway Commission has provided grants to dozens of law enforcement agencies across the state, which are used to fund extra overtime hours dedicated to increased enforcement.

State Police troopers, police officers and sheriffs’ deputies will be especially alert to impaired drivers on the roadways. Mardi Gras falls on March 4 this year but celebrations begin days in advance.

“Mardi Gras puts tens of thousands of additional vehicles on our roads,” LeBlanc said. “Unfortunately, too many drivers of these vehicles choose to get behind the wheel after they've been drinking. Our goal is to make our roads safe for all motorists by removing impaired drivers from the streets and highways.”

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in Louisiana, with a first-offense arrest costing as much as $1,000 in fines, plus court costs and even jail time. In addition, your drivers' license will be suspended for as much as two years.

Drivers and passengers are also reminded to wear their seat belts at all times, especially during the holiday season. Louisiana law requires front- and rear-seat passengers to buckle up while their vehicle is in motion.