TRENTON–Law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey will conduct DWI checkpoints and saturation patrols as part of the annual “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” summer campaign, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer announced today.
Beginning Aug. 21 and running through Sept. 7, a total of 236 local and county law enforcement agencies, as well as the New Jersey State Police, will be cracking down on drivers operating their vehicles and motorcycles while intoxicated.
Designed to increase awareness about the dangers of mixing alcohol with driving, the campaign uses high-visibility police patrols and public education materials, such as banners, posters and mobile display signs to combat drunk driving during the busy, end of summer travel season.
Under this national effort, which was launched in 1999, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety provides federally-funded grants in the amount of $6,000 to participating police agencies for the two-week program. However, all law enforcement agencies are encouraged to participate in the initiative.
“The consequences of drunk driving are tragic and can have a lasting impact,” Fischer said. “There’s no excuse for drinking and driving, and it simply won’t be tolerated on New Jersey’s roads.”
Fischer added that in 2008, 165 people were killed as a result of alcohol-related crashes on New Jersey’s highways, representing approximately 28 percent of the 591 traffic fatalities reported in the state.
According to a 2009 Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll on driver behaviors, conducted in partnership with the Division, one in five drivers, or 21 percent, said they have consumed alcohol and then driven, up 6 percent from the previous year. In addition, one in five drivers believe they can have two drinks and safely drive, while one in 10 say they can have three or more drinks and still be okay to get behind the wheel.
“Clearly, many people still believe that after a few drinks, they’re safe to drive,” Fischer said. “Even one drink can alter your judgment and reaction time behind the wheel, putting not only yourself, but everyone on the road, in danger.”
The Division offers the following advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable end of summer travel season for all New Jerseyans and out-of-state visitors:
• If you’ve consumed alcohol, even just one drink, take mass transit, a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home. Or, spend the night.
• Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 to report a drunk or aggressive driver.
• If you’re intoxicated, and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member escort you safely to your doorstep.
• Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle. It’s the best defense against an impaired driver.
Local police departments that received grants to participate in the program include Carteret, Cranbury, Dunellen, Edison, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Brunswick, South Plainfield and South River in Middlesex County and Cranford, Elizabeth, Fanwood, Garwood, Hillside, Kenilworth, Linden, New Providence, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle, Scotch Plains, Summit, Union and Westfield in Union County, and the Union County Police Department.