State and federal safety officials Tuesday presented special awards to law enforcement officers and agencies that helped remove thousands of drunk driving suspects from state roads during 2011. At the awards ceremony, sponsored by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, Baton Rouge City Prosecutor Lisa Freeman was named Prosecutor of the Year.
Ms. Freeman was an Assistant City Prosecutor for 21 years until her appointment as the Chief City Prosecutor last year. During her tenure, she has been instrumental in developing more stringent guidelines for prosecuting DWI offenders. The practice of accountability and transparency in DWI prosecutions is a hallmark of her administration. Ms. Freeman is also a charter team member of the Sobriety Court Program at Baton Rouge City Court for repeat DWI offenders. Sobriety Court is a twelve month program for offenders who have been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated on at least two occasions.
According to Judge Susan Ponder, “Ms. Freeman exemplifies fairness, courtesy and professionalism to each litigant who enters Sobriety Court. Since the program’s inception in January, 2011, eleven (11) individuals have graduated. Ms. Freeman plays a critical role in the success of the Sobriety Court.”
“The fine men and women and departments we are honoring helped save lives and spare countless citizens from the terrible consequences that often result from drunk driving,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Commission. “Drunk drivers are a major cause of traffic deaths and injuries in Louisiana and across the nation. They are a danger to themselves, their passengers and other motorists.”
Alcohol was a factor in 43 percent of the 720 crash deaths in Louisiana in 2010. (Crash data for 2011 has not been finalized.)
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission works year round to support enforcement and education programs related to DWI and other problem driving behaviors. The awards program, started in 2008 was developed with the support and cooperation of the Louisiana State Police, Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, Louisiana Judicial Association, and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.