|TRENTON – The Division of Highway Traffic Safety today announced that nearly 200 New Jersey law enforcement agencies will receive a total of $975,000 to crackdown on drunk and impaired drivers during the end-of-summer “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
Each of the 195 agencies was awarded a $5,000 grant, which will be used for checkpoints and saturation patrols that will target drunk drivers from August 15 to September 1. More than 300 additional police departments are expected to participate in the initiative unfunded.
“If drunk driving was eliminated, more than 150 lives would be spared each year in New Jersey,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “The Division of Highway Traffic Safety is calling on hundreds of law enforcement agencies to join in the fight against drunk driving. By working together, increasing public awareness and using a no-excuses approach to enforcement, we can send the strong message that drunk driving will not be tolerated.”
Nationwide in 2012, Labor Day weekend saw 147 drunk-driving fatalities. To put it in perspective, throughout the year someone is killed in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash every 51 minutes, on average. Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 34 minutes. And not surprisingly, nighttime is the worst, with almost half (46%) of all nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) traffic fatalities involving a drunk driver during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
“Many people believe that even after having a few drinks, they can still drive. One’s judgment is among the first things to be affected after consuming alcohol,” Poedubicky stated. “Whether you’re operating a car, truck, SUV or motorcycle, even one drink can impair judgment and reaction time, creating a potentially dangerous situation for everyone on the road.”
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 1,365 DWI arrests statewide. They also issued citations for speeding (5,710), seatbelt violations (4,153), driving with a suspended license (3,563) and reckless driving (936). Nearly 1,800 fugitives were apprehended during the campaign.
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.
A list of all law enforcement agencies receiving a mobilization grant is available at the Division’s web site at, www.nj.gov/oag/hts/downloads/DSOGPO_08-2014_Grant_Recipients.pdf.