STATE — Law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey will conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints during the upcoming holiday season as part of the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” year-end, drunk driving crackdown, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky announced today.
Between Dec. 6 and Jan. 2, police agencies will participate in the national effort designed to combat drunk driving during one of the busiest and most dangerous travel times of the year. Designed to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, the four week initiative uses high visibility enforcement and public education efforts, including posters, banners, national TV public service announcements and mobile video display signs.
“Our goal is to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday by keeping intoxicated drivers off the roads,” Poedubicky said. “Concentrated efforts such as this one will heighten awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, and the consequences motorists can face if they choose to drink and drive.”
In place since 1999, the program provides federal grants, through the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety, of $5,000 each to 115 law enforcement departments. However, all local police agencies received information about the program and have been asked to run checkpoints and patrols during the holiday season and report their results to the Division. The New Jersey State Police will also participate in the effort.
Last year in New Jersey, 189 people were killed as a result of 179 alcohol-related crashes. That number represents 32 percent of the 584 traffic fatalities reported in the state in 2009. Nationally, 10,839 individuals were killed in highway crashes involving drunk driving.
“The number of lives lost as a result of drunk driving is simply unacceptable,” Poedubicky said. “As we can see from these numbers, there is still work to be done. Driving while intoxicated remains a serious problem, and this holiday season we are sending a strong and clear message that this dangerous and often deadly behavior will not be tolerated on New Jersey roads.”
The Division offers the following advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday 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.
- 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.
Motorists are also asked this holiday season to subscribe to the pledge of the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers: drive sober, be a designated driver and don’t let your 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. Started in New Jersey by the Elliott 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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