TRENTON – More than 400 New Jersey law enforcement agencies are expected to participate in a nationwide initiative to crackdown on drunk driving, which gets underway today and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 2.
The state Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced grants totaling $686,400 this week for 156 law enforcement agencies that participate in the “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over” program. Each agency received $4,400 to staff saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints.
In Middlesex County, the Dunellen, Edison, Jamesburg, Metuchen, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Plainsboro, South Plainfield and Woodbridge police departments received grants. In Union County, police departments in Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Hillside, Linden, Plainfield, Roselle Park, Roselle, Springfield and Westfield received funding.
“We want to remind everyone that getting behind the wheel drunk is a terrible idea,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “Unfortunately, not only does drinking impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely, it also impairs your judgment and good sense about whether you can, or should drive. If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not get behind the wheel. If you do chose to drive impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.”
Poedubicky said State and local law enforcement officials expect a high volume of travelers during the Labor Day weekend (August 30 – September 2), which not coincidentally falls at the end of the drunk driving enforcement campaign.
During the Labor Day weekend in 2011, a total of 138 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with BACs of .08 or higher. Of those fatalities, 83 percent occurred during early evening and overnight, from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. Drunk driving takes a particularly heavy toll among young drivers. Among 18- to 34-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, 42 percent were alcohol-impaired.
“Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. By joining this nationwide effort, we will make New Jersey’s roadways safer for everyone throughout the Labor Day period,” Poedubicky said.
Penalties for a first DWI arrest can include fines of up to $500, 30 days in jail, one-year driver’s license suspension and court costs. Successive DWI arrests carry stiffer penalties.
During last year’s crackdown, law enforcement made 1,459 DWI arrests statewide. They also issued citations for speeding (6,550), seatbelt violations (4,258), driving with a suspended license (3,193) and reckless driving (947). Nearly 2,000 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.
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