Posted: Jun 23, 2014 5:05 PM by Chris Nakamoto
Updated: Jun 23, 2014 7:02 PM
BATON ROUGE - The State's DWI Task Force convened an impromptu meeting Monday, discussing ways to crack down on drunk drivers. At the meeting, the task force approved a plan that will funnel at least 2.1 million dollars in federal money to Louisiana to fight drunk drivers.
John Gaines Jr. knows all too well what happens when drivers choose to drink and get behind the wheel. He lost six family members and a family friend two years ago when convicted drunk driver Brett Gerald smashed head on into his family.
"People who drink and kill people, that's murder," Gaines Jr. said.
Preventing that type of tragedy is the focus of the state's DWI Task Force. It convened a special meeting to come up with strategic ways to actively fight impaired driving.
"They use it for court education, driving checkpoints, educating kids at our universities," DWI Task Force Chairman Jody Amedee said. "They also want to get new intoxilizer machines statewide and want to do more education for repeat offenders."
Part of the plan today included implementing a DWI reporting system to make tracking an offender's arrest easier. This is something the WBRZ Investigative Unit has reported on extensively.
"It's like anything," Amedee said. "The more information you have the better we are. It's just one step that will help law enforcement agencies communicate with each other."
The hope is by the end of the year, the entire state will track an offender's arrest through conviction. That's music to the ears of Floyd Johnson, State Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"If someone is arrested in Caddo Parish, we don't know if they have a prior conviction," Johnson said.
Although these efforts are too late for the Gaines family, they do support plans to prevent others from experiencing their tragedy.
"We just keep living this nightmare over and over and over," John Gaines Sr. said. "I just pray to God that things start changing."
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission will determine how the money is spent. The money will increase the number of DWI checkpoints statewide.