TRENTON — Police officers throughout New Jersey will be cracking down on drunk drivers as part of the annual summer “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer announced Tuesday.
Beginning Aug. 20 and running through Sept. 6, police officers will conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, looking for motorists who may be driving while intoxicated.
“There’s simply no excuse to drink and drive,” Fischer stated. “The decision to get behind the wheel after drinking can change not just your own life, but the life of your family, your friends, and everyone who is on the road with you. Even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time, creating a potentially deadly situation.”
Fischer noted that last year in New Jersey, 185 people were killed as a result of alcohol-related crashes. That number represents 31 percent of the 583 traffic fatalities reported in the state in 2009. In addition, 67 of those alcohol-related fatalities occurred during the summer travel season.
A concentrated national effort, the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign helps to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving through high-visibility enforcement and public education that includes posters, banners and mobile video display signs. Launched nationally in 1999, the program works to combat drunk driving during the summer months — one of the busiest travel times of the year.
As part of the initiative, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety will provide federal grants of $4,400 each to 187 law enforcement agencies throughout the state to run the two-week campaign. However, all police departments in the state are encouraged to participate in the effort.
In Middlesex County, East Brunswick, Metuchen, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Brunswick, South Plainfield and Woodbridge received grants.
In Union County, Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Fanwood, Kenilworth, Linden, New Providence, Plainfield, Rahway, Roselle Park, Roselle, Scotch Plains and Westfield received federal money.
During last year’s summer “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” crackdown, participating police agencies made 1,528 DWI arrests, and issued 8,051 speeding tickets and 4,964 seat belt citations.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following advice to ensure a safe summer travel season for those who choose to drink alcohol:
- Take mass transit, a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
- Spend the night rather than get behind the wheel.
- Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 to report a drunk or aggressive driver.
- Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle. It’s your best defense against an impaired 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 drive or escort you to your doorstep.
Motorists are also asked to take the pledge of the Ensign John R. Elliot HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers: Drive sober, be a designated driver and don’t let friends drive drunk. Under the effort, local businesses and community groups, law enforcement agencies, and schools work together to keep drunk drivers off the road. Founded in New Jersey by the Elliot family following the tragic death of their son, John, in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, the campaign has become a national model for preventing drunk driving.
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