Drunken driving: a look at State Police numbers

Drunken driving: a look at State Police numbers

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Drunk drivers are still hitting the road in large numbers, despite tougher DWI laws with higher fines.

FOX 8 News delved into the number of DWI citations issued by State Police on the north shore, where traffic arteries are increasingly busy.

"Don't make that poor decision, don't let the motoring public be involved in your poor decision, have a plan," said State Trooper Dustin Dwight of Troop L.

And on the evening of Mardi Gras, Mandeville police arrested James Hittson after he allegedly took a friend's truck without permission from an apartment on Madison Street  and then ended up hitting a parked vehicle along North Causeway.

"Mr. Hittson was extremely impaired. Officers in their investigation ended up charging him with what would be his fifth DWI," said Lt. Gerald Sticker.

Sticker said Hittson's known DWI history goes back to 1984.

"He's actually done DOC time, Department of Corrections time on two different times for those DWIs," Sticker said.

Several law enforcement agencies target drunk drivers on the north shore, but the numbers for this story include state police Troop L totals which covers St. Tammany, Washington, Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes.

In 2012, there were 1,867 DWI citations issued by Troop L. For 2013, the number of citations was 1,614, and for 2014, 1,114.

"Eleven hundred is a number that we want to see go down and the troopers are extremely motivated in trying to reach that number through pro-active patrols - be it a checkpoint or a saturation patrol in certain areas," said Dwight.

A check with the St. Tammany DA's Office, which also covers Washington Parish, found that in 2014, 1,615 people were charged with driving while intoxicated by prosecutors. In 2013, the number was 1,838.

And anyone can become a victim of a drunk driver. It is something that was very evident on Valentine's Day when a trooper out of Baton Rouge became a victim along I-10.

"Here comes an impaired driver and trying to pass other cars on the shoulder crashes right into the back of our trooper," said Dwight.

The trooper sustained minor injuries and the driver was arrested for 3rd-offense DWI.

Dwight said State Police are committed to reducing drunken driving through enforcement and education.

"That is an unacceptable crime that affects too many people in our area," he said.

Saturday the Mandeville Police Department will conduct a DWI checkpoint and will have extra officers on patrol looking for drunk drivers.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.