TRENTON – The State launched a stepped-up holiday drunk driving enforcement campaign today under the banner “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky announced.
The campaign will provide federal grants of $5,000 to 98 law enforcement agencies throughout the state to implement the impaired driving enforcement initiative.
Union County police departments receiving grants include Cranford, Elizabeth, Kenilworth, Linden, New Providence, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Union and Westfield.
East Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Plainfield, and Woodbridge are Middlesex County police departments that received grants.
The enforcement crackdown will run from Dec. 5 to Jan. 2 as law enforcement officers conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, looking for motorists who may be driving while intoxicated.
“The decision to drive drunk is not only illegal, but reckless and irresponsible behavior, one that puts motorists choosing to do so and the public at large in great danger,” Dow said. “The winter holiday saturation patrols and checkpoints will be deployed to apprehend those who ignore our warnings and ultimately to save lives.”
In the winter of 2010, the crackdowns resulted in 2,115 Driving While Intoxicated arrests, up from 1,959 in 2009. In addition, participating police agencies issued 8,687 speeding summonses and 5,119 seat belt summonses, and more than 2,000 fugitives were apprehended during the mobilization.
In 2010, there were 168 fatalities directly attributed to impaired driving in the state, accounting for 30 percent of the 556 total crash fatalities.
The national public awareness campaign, which had been called “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” since 2006, has been rebranded to refocus on what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research has long found to be an at-risk demographic: 18-34 year-old males. In 2010, 73 drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 died in alcohol-related crashes in New Jersey. Sixty-one of them, or 84 percent, were male. Overall, 80 percent of drunk driving fatalities in the Garden State were male-related in 2010.
Those numbers are also reflected nationally. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, males aged 21-34 were only 11 percent of the drinking public nationwide in 2010, yet were responsible for 32 percent of all instances of drunk driving.
“Drunk driving is an issue that affects all demographics, whether it is age, race or sex. But historically, statistics have shown that 18-34 year-old males were the major at-risk group and I believe the transition to ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ is another step in the right direction to reduce and eventually eliminate drunk driving in that demographic,” Poedubicky said.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following advice to ensure a safe holiday 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.
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