TRENTON – This weekend, more than 400 law enforcement agencies in New Jersey will be aggressively looking for all impaired drivers at sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols during the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving mobilization, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced today.
The crackdowns will run from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3. More than $750,000 will be distributed to 172 participating agencies in the form a $4,400 grant from the Division and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) to help fund the patrols.
Although data from NHTSA shows the number of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in New Jersey have been falling, traffic safety officials say the numbers are still too high. In 2010, 153 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle operator was at or above a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of .08, which is the legal limit in all 50 states.
According to the latest national data, nearly a third of fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved a driver with a BAC above the legal limit – an average of one fatality every 51 minutes throughout the year. The age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities nationally was 21-to-24.
Law enforcement officials will also be looking for motorists impaired by drugs during the campaign as NHTSA has seen an alarming uptick in DUI- drugged incidences.
“All too often, innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences and the loss of loved ones due to this careless disregard for human life,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “Because we’re committed to ending the carnage, we are intensifying enforcement during the crackdown. Twice as many alcohol-impaired crashes occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, so police will be especially vigilant during these high-risk times.”
“Our message is simple and unwavering: if law enforcement finds you driving impaired, whether by alcohol or drugs, they will arrest you. No exceptions,” said Poedubicky. “Even if you beat the odds and manage to walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can still destroy your life. The fine is only the beginning.”
During last year’s crackdown, law enforcement arrested 1,437 DWI arrests statewide. They also issued citations for speeding (5,966), seatbelt violations (3,684), driving with a suspended license (2,793) and reckless driving (775). Nearly 1,500 fugitives were apprehended during the crackdowns.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following advice to ensure a safe summer travel season for those who choose to drink alcohol this summer:
- 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.