LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As Las Vegas continues to reopen, more cars are hitting the roads and safety officials in Southern Nevada are sounding the alarm about drinking and driving.
DUIs were on the decline in November and December of 2020 compared to the same times in 2019 but were up 12% in January of 2021 compared to last January of 2020.
"If I had to pick one behavior, it would be people continuing to drive impaired. And, unfortunately, we saw that this weekend. We had a hit-and-run fatality that involved a cyclist," said Andrew Bennett, public information officer with the Nevada Dept. of Public Safety. "It was exactly what we expect on our roadways that we're trying to prevent: DUI, speed, reckless driving. These are all key causes of fatalities. And so, we have to make sure that we're able to address those through education and enforcement," said Bennett, referencing a deadly crash over the weekend involving a bicyclist and a suspected drunk driver.
As Las Vegas continues to reopen and the roads become busier, Bennett says you can expect to share them with more law enforcement officers who have zero tolerance for dangerous driving.
"Unfortunately, we continue to experience a pretty steady problem with DUIs throughout the pandemic. But, now that people are choosing to go out more and as things are opening up more, DUI continues to be the number one priority of, not only my office but a lot of law enforcement agencies across our state," said Bennett.
Bennett says, for the first time in his eight years working with Zero Fatalities Nevada, the state will be starting a summer campaign to crack down on drunk drivers.
"That's to address hopefully us continuing to go in the right direction with the pandemic and people going out more. And we're going to follow that up with enforcement. We want to make sure that the the message is clear. And our message is drive sober, period. And if you choose not to follow that advice, we will follow it up with enforcement," said Bennett.
If you happen to witness what you think may be an impaired driver, Bennett strongly encourages you to report them, either by dialing 9-1-1 or *NHP and law enforcement will respond right away.
He also encourages anyone who's heading out on the town to make a safe transportation plan ahead of time. If ride shares aren't going to be available, it's best to have a designated driver to get everyone home safely.