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Top honors for Operation Pullover work

CARMEL — For his time and effort to build a noteworthy traffic enforcement and safety program, Sean Holmes of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department has been named the Operation Pull Over coordinator of the year.

The department’s officers have won the best in state award for the third time in the past five years, as well. ECSD was honored specifically for its work in increasing awareness of seat-belt rules and penalties.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute administers the grant enforcement program and oversees the awards. Holmes was patrol captain when the announcement was made; he now serves as Sheriff Brad Rogers' undersheriff.

During the 12-month grant period ending Sept. 30, the department arrested 506 impaired drivers. For the four years prior, the department averaged about 390 DUI arrests.

“The success of Indiana’s Operation Pull Over initiative would not be possible without the unwavering commitment of the law enforcement coordinators leading their agencies in these efforts,” said Lance Grubbs, ICJI’s northeast region liaison. “Captain Holmes spearheaded officers of the sheriff’s department and the Elkhart County DUI Task Force in high-visibility seat-belt enforcement and crackdowns on impaired and dangerous driving.”

During Holmes’ years as coordinator, the department has focused its enforcement efforts on educating drivers and pedestrians about safety on the roads. In particular, officers conducted extra patrols and checkpoints to watch for impaired drivers, though the work has extended in recent years to additional coverage at intersections and near railroad crossings.

Indiana has a 92.4 percent compliance rate on seat-belt use, according to ICJI, and the rate of alcohol-related fatalities has decreased by more than 6 percent since 2008.

While 0.08 percent is the legal limit, impairment can be proven for individuals with drugs in their system or lower blood-alcohol levels. Individuals behind the wheel but driving while impaired will be arrested and prosecuted in Elkhart County.

A felony DUI conviction could have a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and the penalties increase if an alcohol-related crash results in another person's injury or death.