REDDI Call Helps Laramie Police Make Felony DWUI Arrest
After getting a call about a possible drunk driver, the Laramie Police Department says they arrested a Centennial resident for Felony DWUI and other charges. An alert citizen made the REDDI report after seeing a drunk man staggering around a vehicle trying to start it at 12:25 p.m. on Thursday and police responded to the area near 1st and Ivinson.
By the time officers arrived, the LPD reports that the vehicle was started and driving in traffic. Poor driving actions were witnessed and authorities say Patrick Gierhart was arrested for Felony DWUI, Driving without Interlock Device, Driving under Suspension, and 'Failure to Pay' Warrant for a previous DWUI.
Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately (REDDI) is a program at the state level that allows for citizens to help in combating drunk drivers by providing them toll free numbers to contact authorities when a drunk driver is suspected. Commander Mitch Cushman with the LPD says that although Laramie does not have a specific number like the Wyoming Highway Patrol, local dispatchers can take information through the emergency 911 number or the non-emergency number of 721-2526, and put out the call to include description of the vehicle, driving actions, and a description of the driver. From there, Cushman reports that officers go the the area to look for the vehicle and if they observe violations, the vehicle is stopped.
"As you know, not all people driving poorly are intoxicated," Cushman said. "If no alcohol is detected, it is possible that they are having a medical emergency. In my experience, I stopped a diabetic who was having an insulin reaction and was driving exactly like a drunk driver. In either case, drunk or medically impaired, it was good to get them off the road."
Cushman calls REDDI a "tried and true program" and reports that in 2010, travelers throughout the state made 9,654 reports of suspected impaired drivers, an increase of 33 percent from 2009. Since the inception of the program 210,380 reports have been made resulting in 48,459 contacts and 19,071 arrests state wide.
Authorities say DWUI on 3rd offense resulting in a conviction within 10 years is considered a felony and can be fined up to $10,000, punished by up to two years in prison, or both. Driving a Vehicle without an Interlock Device is a graduated jail and fine from 7 days in jail on first offense to 30 days minimum to 6 months of jail on second offense. Fines range from $200 on first offense to $750 for second offense.