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Officers in lower Lafourche offering free rides to prevent drunk driving crashes

The goal is to avoid another deadly holiday. Thanksgiving weekend state officials report there were 15 crashes and 20 fatalities state-wide.

LAFOURCHE PARISH, La. — After a deadly year on Louisiana roads, one law enforcement agency is offering free rides to anyone in their district who has been drinking, no questions asked.

"I've personally gone through the displeasure of telling someone when they’ve lost someone during the holidays and that is a tragic thing you don’t want to happen," Port Fourchon Harbor Police Chief Mike Kinler said.

That's why his officers are now offering free rides through January 1 for anyone who has been drinking. The 'Safe Ride Home for the Holidays' program is for anyone traveling to or from the 10th Ward which includes Larose down to Grand Isle, day or night.

"When someone is intoxicated they might think there is an ulterior motive for what we're doing. Our motive is just to get them home. We're not looking for people doing illegal activities," Chief Kinler said.

He wants it to be clear their focus is safety, not enforcement. He encourages those who drink underage to call as well without fear of getting into trouble with law enforcement.

"If you're worried about being in a police car, it's much better to have a policeman in front of your house dropping you off safely than a policeman in front of your house to tell your family you didn’t make it home," Chief Kinler said.

The goal is to avoid another deadly holiday. Thanksgiving weekend state officials report there were 15 crashes and 20 fatalities state-wide. That made this Thanksgiving the deadliest on Louisiana roads in seven years.

"There's definitely been an increase in fatalities across the whole state," Trooper Ross Brennan with Louisiana State Police Troop C said.

Last week, four people died in a head-on crash in St. Landry Parish, including three siblings. Last month, three Nicholls students were killed after being hit by an alleged drunk driver.

Just in Troop C, which covers Terrebonne, Assumption, and Lafourche parishes, Brennan said 59 people have died in car crashes this year, compared to 36 last year, making 2021 the deadliest year on Troop C roads in the last five years.

"These aren’t just numbers, these are loved ones, peoples sisters, brothers, moms, aunts," Trooper Brennan said.

Troop C has seen more deadly crashes since Ida. Brennan said in November 2021, 16 people died in the area, compared to two people in November 2020.

He said the biggest factors are speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, and drunk driving.

"The typical trend is over half of our crashes involve impaired drivers and we also see a lot of distracted drivers, crossing the line," Trooper Brennan said.

"If we can prevent one of them, it's worth it," Chief Kinler said.

For anyone in the Port Fourchon area who needs a ride now through January 1, call 985-396-3911.

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