DES MOINES, Iowa -- Over the next 11 days, thousands of Iowans will flock to the fairgrounds in search of a good time.
According to the Governor’s Traffic and Safety Bureau, a growing number of them are enjoying it a little too much.
Pat Hoye, director of the GTSB, says that the first weekend of the fair is routinely one of the busiest for police when it comes to OWI enforcement.
“There's just so many people out there that we do see a sizable increase in OWI’s,” said Hoye. “It's an issue that we see each year and we need to do something about it.”
One way they plan to do that is to continue their Central Iowa Traffic Safety Task Force.
The CITSTF will gather departments from all over the metro to combat this problem. You can expect to see two to three times the normal number of police officers patrolling outside of the fair this weekend.
The Des Moines Police Department has a little something extra planned to stop impaired drivers.
Parked on the corner of E. 30th St and University is their new OWI Mobile Command Center.
“It’s just another tool in our arsenal to make the city safer,” said Lt. Dave Seybert, DMPD. “It’ something different to get officers out on the street faster.”
The new mobile center was the brainchild of Lt. Seybert. Last year, he began thinking about how they could get officers back on the road faster during high-volume peak OWI times such as the State Fair.
“It can take up to three hours for an officer to go back on patrol,” said Lt. Seybert. “We know one of the best deterrents is being seen. We needed to get back out there faster.”
The command center is equipped with everything a station has to process an OWI. Inside you’ll find holding cells, processing computers, breathalyzers and even cameras recording the whole event. Lt. Seybert says they plan on getting this out once a month and you can plan on seeing it at major drinking-related events all year.
“This is kind of our baby. Let’s see what we can do,” said Ly. Seybert. “We know that we have a problem with drinking and driving. The fatality rate is up. What can we do to make it better?”
The GTSB gave DMPD $60,000 to launch the program.