TRENTON – Families who had suffered through the tragedy of losing someone to impaired driving today gathered at the Trenton War Memorial Building for the second annual New Jersey Remembers ceremony.
During the emotional remembrance, families participated in a processional, where they were escorted by local police officers and State Troopers. Representing the nearly 13,000 lives lost each year nationwide to impaired driving, the families displayed photos of their loved ones and lit candles to commemorate their lives. They were also afforded the opportunity to say a few words on stage about their relatives to the 150 attendees.
“We have this solemn opportunity to remember those who were cruelly taken from their families too early and to remind the public what a pointless, and preventable tragedy impaired driving is,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky.
“Educating the public and enforcing our laws are the keys to combating drunk and drugged driving,” Poedubicky said. “We do this through our “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving mobilizations, saturation patrols and checkpoints, as well as the efforts of Drug Recognition Experts. Pairing these efforts with our message to the public that having even one drink is too many to drive, we can make sure everyone stays safe and sober on the roadways.”
In New Jersey, alcohol-related crash fatalities account for 30 percent of all crash fatalities. In 2010, 168 people died in alcohol-related crashes, down from 2009, when 187 lost their lives.
Also speaking at today’s tribute were State Police Deputy Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Louis P. Klock, Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton and Jill Morrison, whose brother was killed by impaired driver.
Following the victims’ tribute, officers with most Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrests from each of the 21 counties and all four State Police troops were honored for their efforts in 2011. For Union County, Cranford Ptl. Steven D’Ambola was honored; for Middlesex County, it was East Brunswick Ptl. Frank Sutter.
Last year officers in New Jersey made more than 30,000 DWI arrests in the state. The statewide leader was Elmwood Park Patrolman Michael Prelich, of Bergen County, who made 83 arrests in 2011.