ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: Angel Streeter ORIGINAL SOURCE: http://bit.ly/16wmFM0
Report an impaired driver in Palm Beach County and you could get $100.
During the holiday party season, the number of drunken revelers rises, so county residents are being enlisted in the DUI battle.
“It gives law enforcement additional eyes on the road,” said Donna Bryan, spokeswoman for the Safety Council of the Palm Beaches. “Everyone should have an interest in getting impaired drivers off the roads because it could be someone who hits your loved one.”
Since 2001, Palm Beach County has had the Mobile Eyes program, which has led to hundreds of arrests.
The Mobile Eyes program works simply: If residents spot an impaired driver, they call 911 and an officer is dispatched. If an arrest is made, the police fill out a Mobile Eyes report that is sent to the Safety Council. The person who reported the impaired driver then gets $100.
It typically takes about two weeks for the DUI spotters to receive their cash reward. So anyone trying to get a little extra holiday cash is out of luck. There is also a $500 lifetime limit on how much someone can collect from Mobile Eyes.
But Bryan said many people turn down the cash. They’re just happy to get a drunken driver off the road.
The program works year-round. Every year, Mobile Eyes hands out 30 to 40 cash rewards. So far, 24 have been awarded this year.
Safety officials put an extra emphasis on the program during the holidays. Among the deadliest times of the year on the road are between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
“It has prevented drunken driving crashes,” said Deigo Asencio, a longtime volunteer with the Palm Beach County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
It’s an additional tool to combat an entrenched problem.
“It’s big. Every year, we have about 4,000 people booked in Palm Beach County for DUI-related offenses,” Asencio said. “That’s a lot of people. There’s still lot of driving drunk going on.”
Law enforcement also will be out in full force to combat impaired driving. The Florida Highway Patrol Wednesday announced that it is starting its participation in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign through Jan. 1.
Statewide, alcohol-related crashes and deaths have been declining. About 1,004 people died from alcohol-related crashes in 2009, compared with 859 last year.
But in Palm Beach County, alcohol-related traffic deaths have started going back up. In 2011, 44 people died from alcohol-related crashes in the county. Last year, there were 51.
Impaired drivers cause about a third of all traffic deaths.
“It’s an ongoing battle,” Asencio said. “We need to make people understand it’s a serious crime.” firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-243-6537 or Twitter @adstreeter