Louisiana has announced it is driving towards "Destination Zero Deaths," a statewide campaign ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Louisiana ranks ninth in the country for fatal drunk driving related crashes. And drunk driving deaths are 4 times higher on Memorial Day weekend, according to state figures. Of all traffic deaths in Louisiana, third in every 10 crashes involve drivers impaired by alcohol; nearly seven in 10 of them have a blood alcohol level almost twice the legal limit.
That has law enforcement taking steps to protect lives in what is a very personal effort for many families. This Memorial Day holiday weekend, Louisiana plans a combined effort of high visibility enforcement with education and a media blitz. The ultimate goal is to help drivers make better choices.
"And I felt his chest. And when I, you know, gave him a breath of air, I could hear the gurgling in his lungs," recalled Veronica Fruge when she spoke with us last fall.
At the time she described watching her husband, 38-year-old Joshuah Fruge of Bossier City, slowly slip away shortly after an alleged drunk driver collided with them head-on.
"It is an extremely hard life to live without your soulmate," Fruge said.
Nearly seven months later, Veronica lives with the scars from the lasting horror of the crash, the night of October 26 on Barksdale Boulevard in Bossier City.
Her message to the public now — "There's always somebody who will drive you."
Fruge said those driving options can range from family to friends to a taxi or ride-sharing company.
"Than to take out some, you know, to take a chance on taking someone's husband, father, you know, wife, child because it's never the same," Fruge said
As for the driver in Fruge's crash, 33-year-old Larry Daughtry, his vehicular homicide charge could potentially put him in prison for up to 30 years.
"I want him to spend a long time thinking about what he did."
A "No Refusal Policy" is in place during the Memorial Day Weekend holiday. That means if suspected drunk drivers refuse a breath test an on-duty judge will provide a search warrant for that person's urine or blood.
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