JEFFERSON — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will receive grants it hopes will make roads in the county — particularly State Highway 26 — safer for travelers this year.
Jefferson County Sheriff Paul Milbrath said Monday the grants will total $47,500.
Milbrath said one, worth $40,000, will help his deputies in their efforts to get drivers to slow down on Highway 26.
This Speed Task Force Grant from the state, which will be shared with the Jefferson Police Department, has been a benefit that the department has received the past six years.
“Data has shown that speeding is a major factor in traffic fatalities. We hope that, with an increased presence on Highway 26, we can deter speeding and keep the roadway safer,” Milbrath said.
Funding for this grant runs from March through September.
A second grant to be received by the sheriff’s office will enhance its involvement in enforcement of ignition interlock device usage among members of the public.
People convicted of the offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant are often required to have an ignition interlock device placed on their vehicles.
“For the first time ever, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has been selected by the Bureau of Transportation Safety, through the State of Wisconsin, to participate in an Ignition Interlock Device Task Force Grant to ensure compliance with state statutes,” Milbrath said, noting his office will work with the Jefferson Police Department and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to educate, monitor compliance and enforce IID regulations on individuals.
The funding for this grant is $7,500 and will run from March through August.
A list of individuals who are required to comply with IID restrictions will be obtained by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office from the state. After receiving this list, contact will be made with concerned drivers to ask if they are in compliance with their court orders.
“If they aren’t, they need to be,” Milbrath said.
Milbrath said compliance checks will be done by both agencies to verify the information they have received from drivers.
Jefferson Police Department Chief Ken Pileggi said that his department has partnered with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office over the past several years to promote traffic safety in the area.
“We are once again proud to be partnered with the sheriff’s office in insuring that drivers who are required to have an ignition interlock device based on a previous drunken driving event are, in fact, in compliance,” Pileggi said. “IID’s are valuable tools that make sure that a driver cannot start a vehicle with a breath alcohol level of higher than .02. The device also alerts while the vehicle is operating, requiring the driver to provide a breath sample into the hand held unit as they drive. If a prohibited sample is obtained, when the driver shuts off the car, it will not start and a notification is sent to the device installer, who in turn notifies the sheriff’s office.”
Pileggi said not having a device installed on a vehicle as required by law is a criminal traffic offense for certain OWI offenders that could jeopardize their ability to retain a valid driver’s license.
“The goal of (the agencies) is to gain compliance and do our part to make the roadways safe for the citizens of Jefferson County,” the sheriff said.
Milbrath also asked motorists to remember the ‘Move Over or Slow Down’ law.”
“The law requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down in order to provide a ‘safety zone’ for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, utility vehicle, or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing,” Milbrath said.
According to the sheriff, his office will continue to participate in national mobilizations set by agencies of the federal government, which include Click-It-or-Ticket, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, 4th of July Drive Sober and Holiday Season National Mobilization.
“We ask all drivers to monitor their speed and driving habits for us in an effort to do their part to make our roadways safer,” Milbrath said.