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Law enforcement up patrols for drunk drivers

MADISON (WKOW) — For the labor day weekend, the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and others are making sure drunk drivers don’t cause any harm to our communities.

“It was a hit and run incident, so the driver just drove right off and it was pretty obvious that it was a drunk driver,” Nick Debner said.

In January of 2017, a drunk driver hit Alexandra Ihm, on the corner of Regent and Randall streets in Madison.

She survived for 49 days before succumbing to her injuries.

Debner, her boyfriend, saw it happen right in front of him.

“It narrowly missed my friend and hit my girlfriend, sending her into the air and she ended up underneath a parked car,” he said. “Once everything cooled down it was really infuriating knowing that somebody just got behind the wheel drunk and just drove off after causing so much damage.”

Unfortunately, Debner isn’t alone. Drunk driving related crashes happen all too often.

In Dane County, two drunk driving related incidents sent four people to the hospital.

One in Oregon, found by an off duty Madison Police officer who happened to be in the area.

“Had they not witnessed that crash and investigated, in all likelihood, all three individuals probably would have died,” Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney said.

He says law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin are making sure that doesn’t become the trend this Labor Day weekend, with heightened patrols.

“Law enforcement will be out and there will be no breaks,” Sheriff Mahoney said. “We will arrest and incarcerate anyone who is driving drunk because they’re putting our motoring community at risk.”

Overnight Saturday, officers all over southwest Wisconsin made at least five OWI arrests.

He says to avoid that, take advantage of all the opportunities for a safe ride home.

“All across Dane County, you have access to safe rides and Cabs and Uber and Lyft,” Mahoney said. “So there really is no reason to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while you’re intoxicated.”

Debner wishes his girlfriend’s killer had listened to that advice.

“Be safe and be smart,” he said. “Think about the people in our community.”

Ihm’s killer was sentenced to three years in prison in January of this year for Homicide by drunken driving.

Officials say she had a blood alcohol content of 0.14 when she hit Ihm and drove for 10 minutes before being stopped.

Sheriff Mahoney says there won’t be any checkpoints during the enforcement.

Deputies and officers from surrounding police departments will be monitoring drunk driving hotspots.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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