LA still near top for DWI deaths

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - "We just had a fatal recently, where someone crossed the center line and the person not drinking is the one that is injured or killed," said Sgt. Stephen LaFargue with Louisiana State Police Troop D.

It's something Sgt. LaFargue has seen plenty of over the years - DWI related fatalities. A new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks Louisiana third behind Montana and South Carolina for fatality rates in alcohol-impaired-driving. The report says alcohol-impaired driving deaths decreased in 40 states, including the Bayou State.

In 2008 Louisiana had 912 roadway fatalities, of those 338 involved alcohol impairment. That's down from 2007 where Louisiana saw 375 alcohol related roadway fatalities.

The slight decrease is in part to DWI checkpoints performed by multiple agencies and aggressive details to get the impaired drivers off the roads.

"We've done that by increasing our arrests by 19% this year, we've taken over 1300 people off the roadway for impaired driving," said LaFargue.

It appears to be working, Troop D is reporting half the DWI-related deaths at this time last year. But with only 60 troopers patrolling the five parish area, they can't be everywhere.

"We can educate and tell people to get a designated driver, call a taxi, but it's upon the public. You need to take responsibility and not drink and drive," said LaFargue.

In case you're wondering which states had the lowest impaired driving fatality rate: That honor went to Vermont and Utah. For a complete list of how all fifty states ranked click here.

Copyright 2009 KPLC. All rights reserved.