INDIANAPOLIS — Police departments across Indiana will be stepping up patrols on New Year’s Eve to keep their eyes out for drunk drivers.

The holiday is one of the deadliest for drunk driving and police say it is completely preventable.

Marie Greger-Smith was just 11 years old when her mother was hit and killed on her way to the grocery store. The driver was drunk and it changed her life forever. 

Marie Greger-Smith and her mother

“She didn’t get to see me graduate high school. She didn’t see me graduate from nursing school,” Greger-Smith said. “She didn’t get to see me get married. No grandchildren. She was only 29 years old.”

Her mother was one of the thousands of people that are killed each year by drunk driving. Marie has spent the past 40 years trying to bring that number down and hopes people will consider the consequences before getting behind the wheel.

“When you wake up in jail from being arrested and they tell you you’ve killed someone. You’ve killed someone’s child,” Greger-Smith said. “How would you feel if someone did that to your child?”

Indiana State Police is expecting it to be a busy weekend. They along with 200 other police departments across the state will have extra patrols on the roads thanks to grant money from the federal government.

“Our number one priority is going to be looking for intoxicated drivers because we want everyone to go in to 2023 safe and sound,” Sgt. Matt Ames said.

Sgt. Ames said the best way to avoid ringing in the new year in a jail cell is to plan ahead.

“Make sure that you know what you’re going to do when you get ready to go to your party,” Sgt. Ames said. “Whether you’re going to be getting home by an Uber, Lyft, cab or you’re gonna have a designated driver at the party with you.”

Carmel law firm Stewart and Stewart is once again offering to reimburse people for their rides home as part of their Safe and Sober program.

All you need to do is keep your receipt for your Uber, Lyft or taxi ride and fill out a form on their website. They’ll reimburse up to $20 of your ride.

The ride must be to your home and not to another drinking location. The deadline to submit your receipt is January 13.

You can find a link to the form here.

Rides on IndyGo buses will also be free after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

With so many resources available, Greger-Smith hopes people will heed her warning if not for others then at least for themselves.

“The life you save may be your own because not all impaired drivers make it out alive,” Greger-Smith said.