March Madness tips off in Indy as police crack down on impaired drivers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — March Madness is tipping off in downtown Indianapolis. This week the city is playing host to the women’s Big Ten basketball tournament.

Later this month the action continues with men’s first and second round NCAA Tournament games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“It’s very exciting. The month of March is here. It’s March Madness and there’s not a better city in the country to host NCAA action,” said Bob Schultz with Downtown Indy Inc.

Schultz say people coming downtown to watch the games will bring in millions of dollars to businesses.

“The bars and restaurants and hotels are all amped up to host visitors and all of us who live here,” said Schultz.

To keep everyone safe, police around the state are increasing enforcement and cracking down on impaired drivers.

That includes paying overtime to get extra officers on the streets and setting up sobriety checkpoints at random locations.

The goal is to help everyone enjoy the March Madness games safely.

“I personally have friends of mine that the first 2-3 days of the NCAA tournament they’re pretty much at a bar watching all the games,” said ISP master trooper Shana Kennedy.

Trooper Kennedy understands how much Hoosiers love basketball, but says state police are joining hundreds of state and local law enforcement agencies looking to bust impaired drivers this month.

“We’re just going to come out here and make sure everyone gets where they’re going and no one gets hurt. That’s the number one goal,” said Kennedy.

According to state police, last march there were 495 alcohol-related crashes across Indiana. Eleven of those crashes turned deadly and all of them were totally preventable.

“If you’re adult enough to go out and have a good time, then you should be adult enough to have a plan to get you home,” said Kennedy.

The same day the men’s NCAA tournament games tip off, the Saint Patrick’s Day parade will also draw a big crowd, but downtown leaders agree the events are all better when people act responsibly.

“Saint Patrick’s Day is kind of known for tipping of the green beer, but do it responsibly,” said Schultz.

The statewide increased patrols start this Friday and run until the 26th.