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OWI task force deploys for St. Paddy's Day Weekend

Posted at 9:31 PM, Mar 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-15 23:22:59-04

MUSKEGO — The Southeast Wisconsin Impaired Driving Task Force deployed Friday night just as the St. Patrick's Day weekend began.

The task force aims to deter people from driving under the influence, as well as get impaired drivers off the roads.

"It’s hit or miss depending on the year," said Muskego Police Sergeant Brad Sippel. "There’s some years where we’re just extremely busy and it’s hard to keep up with the calls. There’s other years where there’s absolutely nothing going on."

Sgt. Sippel served as part of the task force Friday night. He shared his perspective with TODAY'S TMJ4 during a ride along.

The Southeast Wisconsin Impaired Driving Task Force is made up of 40 law enforcement agencies who coordinate deployments like this weekend. The officers work in addition to their department's normal staffing.

Officers are dedicated to OWI related calls, but still make "regular" traffic stops.

"I would say probably at least 50 percent of the time it’s just us making a traffic stop, making contact with somebody and determining from our contact that there's some sort of impairment whether it's alcohol or drugs or a combination of both," said Sippel.

Last year on St. Patrick's Day, a Milwaukee County sheriff's deputy's dash cam caught the moment an impaired driver crashed into their squad car. The driver was charged with his sixth OWI.

Sippel believes the dedicated task force makes a difference.

"Having two additional bodies definitely helps our manpower being able to get out and make traffic stops, determine if there is somebody impaired behind the wheel and potentially deter some drunk driving," he said.

Task force leaders said last St. Patrick's Day weekend there were 228 traffic stops, 120 citations and nine impaired drivers who were taken off the road.

Overall, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office reported 19 OWI arrests during St. Patricks Day 2018.