Crack down on impaired drivers continues in western Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Crack down on impaired drivers continues in western Nevada

As part of the annual "Click it or Ticket" campaign, western Nevada law enforcement issued 534 citations from 455 traffic stops this year.

And while that campaign ended Dec. 2, Nevada Highway Patrol public information officer Matt McLaughlin said the push to prevent impaired driving through the holiday season is already under way.

Through New Year's Day, he said area residents can expect to see double or even triple the normal law enforcement presence.

"Impaired driving is not just alcohol any more," he said. "It's marijuana, controlled substances, prescription drugs."

The message, he said, is there's always a better solution than getting behind the wheel and trying to drive home.

"Click it or Ticket," he said, is focused on people not wearing their seatbelts. A total of 74 people were found not wearing their seatbelts in those 455 traffic stops. McLaughlin said the seatbelt violation is still a secondary offense, meaning the officer has to have another reason for stopping the vehicle, not just that he suspects the driver isn't wearing a belt. But, he said, the statute requires the officer to issue a ticket for those not wearing their belts. He can't just let someone off with a warning.

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Another common violation, McLaughlin said, was using a cell phone, which resulted in 45 tickets during the two-week program. Cell phone use, however, is a primary offense. An officer who sees someone using a cell can and will pull them over, he said.

He said the reason for "Click it or Ticket" is the number of senseless deaths and injuries suffered in crashes that wouldn't happen if people were wearing their belts.

Impaired driving, he said, is also a major cause of crashes. He said residents in Washoe, Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties can help reduce injuries and death from impaired driving by planning ahead by designating a sober driver or making sure they have money for a taxi or Uber/Lyft ride home. During holiday events, area bus services typically offer free rides to those who have been imbibing.

He said anyone who spots a drunk driver should call 911 to help prevent a crash and possible death or injury. He said if a friend of someone else is about to drive or ride their motorcycle while impaired, people should take their keys and help make other arrangements to get that person home.

He said he's amazed with the number of options now out there, more people don't take advantage of them to get safely home.

"Unfortunately, far too many lives are lost and families are changed permanently during the holiday season due to impaired driving crashes."