SOUTH BEND, Ind. – If you’re planning on tailgating before the Notre Dame USC game you might notice a difference in the police presence. On Thursday the St. Joseph County Traffic Partnership announced it will expand its DUI Task Force to all day Saturday.
"Instead of just doing night time enforcement on this weekend, we're also going to do daytime enforcement,” said Mishawaka Police Sergeant Tim Williams.
The force will add 12 to 18 officers starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Police said they want their presence to make people think twice about getting behind the wheel.
"Our goal is to add a deterrent to people drinking and driving, especially on a big game day. We want everybody to enjoy the game,” said Williams.
Since Saturday is a night game officers want to remind tailgaters to break up their drinking, if they choose to do so, make sure to eat something, and get plenty of rest.
Also if you are tailgating, plan ahead with a designated driver that way you can leave the game safely.
The force said the drinking and driving statistics can be startling. "The average drunk driver commits that crime 80 times a year without getting caught,” said Williams.
Then consider a night game where more vehicles will be on the road, “so you take that times the number of drivers at that time, that’s a lot of possible intoxicated drivers,” said Williams.
This increased DUI Task Force is in part from repeated response calls to accidents and previous arrests during game weekends.
The last DUI blitz over Labor Day holiday and the University of South Florida game brought in some high numbers. “In that 2 weeks blitz period, we had 117 DUI arrests, just on the task force alone. So we averaged a DUI every 2.69 hours,” said Williams.
Officers said they just want to make sure this is a memorable weekend for all, and not due to a negative reason.
"We don't want to have to experience a tragedy on such a big day,” said Williams.
If you see what appears to be an impaired driver, officers ask you call 911 and give the vehicle description, license plate number, and where it appears the car is heading. That way officer can do their job and check it out.
“The moral of the story is over the limit, under arrest, and our officers will arrest you,” said Williams.