If you want to see some police officers whom you really don't want to meet under unfortunate circumstances over the Thanksgiving weekend, just drive by North Mayfair and Blue Mound roads about 8:30 Wednesday night.
It's intended to be a sobering experience.
Area police departments that participate in the Southeast Wisconsin High-Visibility Enforcement OWI Task Force plan to be out in force to enforce over the holiday, and they want you to know it.
In the hope that a very public display of an array of law enforcement power aimed at catching drunken drivers will deter some people from thinking about driving after drinking in the first place, the departments will hold public roll calls timed to remind everyone just before festivities begin.
It's also a practical event for the enforcers.
"Part of it is getting the officers together and getting everyone on the same page about the plans for the long weekend, all around the metro area," said Capt. Phil Horter of the Brookfield police, the delegated public communications officer for the effort.
Mayfair and Blue Mound, one of Wauwatosa's busiest and most heavily patrolled intersections, will be the scene of Wednesday's roll call for these western suburb jurisdictions:
- Town of Brookfield
- West Allis
- Menomonee Falls
- Elm Grove
Departments participating in the OWI Task Force agree to dedicate officers to watching for possible drunken drivers over designated shifts, typically on and around holidays and after sports events.
Don't spoil a good time – yours or others'
Sad to say, those happy occasions are also times when all too many people tend to relax their inhibitions and their guard about driving after drinking.
Patrol officers sometimes cruise high-traffic areas and sometimes are posted at places where they can monitor particular intersections, signals or stretches of thoroughfares. While the police are not likely to tell anyone exactly where they plan to be, they do want you to know they'll be watching closely for tell-tale behavior.
Nothing would mar your Thanksgiving holiday so much as being stopped, questioned, handcuffed and hauled to the local police station, possibly in front of family members – nothing, that is, except possibly being in a serious accident under the same circumstances.
There are plenty of ways to avoid it:
- Drink responsibly and don't become impaired
- Have a designated, sober driver in your group
- Call a taxi if you feel you might be impaired
- Call a friend or family member for a ride
So you think you're OK to drive?
Capt. Horter also wants to remind people that "Buzzed driving is drunk driving."
"A lot of folks think that if they're only feeling a little buzzed, they're not really intoxicated and they're OK to drive," Horter said. "That's not the case. If you're feeling buzzed, you're impaired, and you can be arrested."
The notion that you are safe from arrest – or safe on the roads – as long as you are under the state's so-called legal limit of a .08 blood alcohol concentration is also not necessarily true, Horter said.
"There's really two charges, then, operating while under the influence and operating with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration," Horter said. "But under certain circumstances, you can still be arrested for OWI even with a concentration under .08 – especially if you're in a crash."
Besides the close work of the Task Force officers themselves, many OWI arrests are initiated by sober citizens who spot other drivers exhibiting dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
Horter said that anyone who spots a suspected drunk driver should call 911, not the local non-emergency number. It will get officers to the scene quicker.
"For younger drivers and out-of-town drivers, especially, it's important to use 911 because most of the newer phones can be tracked by the system, so you don't have to know exactly where you are," Horter said.
Other metro area roll calls
These are the other metro area sites for street roll calls, all at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday:
Hales Corners Park/Ride
- Hales Corner
Water Street Area (PAC)
- Milwaukee police
- Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department
Pick N Save lot 4600 S. Whitnall
- St. Francis
- South Milwaukee