State police on watch for Mardi Gras drunk drivers

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 11:35pm

The end of Mardi Gras festivities meant the end of a big stretch for local law enforcement.

"With Super Bowl and Mardi Gras back to back, our troopers have definitely been working pretty hard," said Jared Sandifer from the Louisiana State Police.

Traffic was relatively calm throughout the day Tuesday, leading some to think the roads might be safer than usual Tuesday night.

"Today I was out at about 5:00, and there was hardly any traffic at all," said Leigh Ann Town, "which was really nice, so I think everybody's partying in New Orleans right now and there probably won't be a whole lot of drunk driving tonight. At least, I hope not."

Mardi Gras is typically one of the worst days of the year for drunk drivers.

"The last night of Mardi Gras will probably be about as busy as New Year's Eve," Sandifer said. "A lot of people on the roads, unfortunately a lot of people out that choose to drink, and then might drive after that."

Some local drivers, though, say alcohol should be a concern beyond the holidays.

"I think drunk driving is a problem, not just today, but every day, 365," said Riley Chapman. "Because people are very careless. And they think that buzzed driving is okay and that they're comfortable, they've been driving for so long."

Sandifer added that some of the threat was from people partying here in town. But troopers would pay just as much attention to all the people driving home from the French Quarter early Wednesday morning.

"I know all the festivities on Bourbon Street end around midnight," Sandifer said, "so a lot of traffic will be coming out of New Orleans after all that is over."

He hoped people who were partying in New Orleans would choose to stay there overnight and wait until the morning to drive back home.

But people here know that the first bad decision a drunk driver makes is to get behind the wheel, so all drivers needed to be more careful than usual.

"Make sure you driving for yourself and for the cars around you," Chapman said, "because drunk driving will be a problem."

Sandifer added that the weather south Louisiana had gotten recently would only make the roads more dangerous. Drunk drivers on wet roads would mean an even higher chance of being involved in a crash.

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