Beginning August 15 through Labor Day, September 1, law enforcement officers will aggressively target drunk drivers. The enforcement plan is part of a nationwide effort designed to stop drunk driving and to save lives. The campaign is called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and its purpose is to increase public awareness with high visibility of law enforcement, which is intended to result in fewer drunk drivers getting behind the wheel.
“The Texarkana, Texas, Police Department has a zero tolerance stance on drinking and driving,” said Public Information Officer Shawn Vaughn. “If you do it, you will go to jail. It’s simply not worth the risks. The best solution for those who want to include alcohol in their holiday plans is to have a sober, designated driver.”
The Hope, Ark., Police Department expressed a similar stance.
“The Hope Police Department will be joining the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign and will arrest anyone caught driving drunk. There will be no tolerance, no excuses,” said Assistant Chief Kim Tomlin.
Asst. Chief Tomlin said there were 552 traffic fatalities on Arkansas roadways during 2012. “Twenty-six percent, or 143 of those fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Drunk driving is totally preventable and inexcusable.”
- Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people every year.
- On average in 2012, one person was killed every 51 minutes in an alcohol-impaired driving crash.
- Holiday weekends bring a surge in drunk driving. Of all traffic fatalities over the 2012 Labor Day weekend, 38 percent involved drunk drivers.
- During the Labor Day weekend in 2012, there were 147 people killed nationwide in crashes involving drivers or motorcyclists whose blood alcohol concentrations registered at .08 or higher.
This year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement campaign will run from August 15 through Labor Day targeting a particularly dangerous time for encountering drunk drivers. The campaign message says it all: drunk drivers will be caught and arrested.
Law enforcement officers on the Arkansas side of town will be stepping up enforcement of traffic safety laws, looking for impaired drivers, said Lieutenant Todd Harness of the Texarkana, Ark., Police Department.
“Overtime Funds for this campaign are provided by a Selective Traffic Enforcement Grant funded through the City of Texarkana, Ark., the State of Arkansas and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” he said.
TAPD Public Information Officer Kristi Mitchell said, “Obviously we want to remind everyone that it is illegal to drive impaired, and we hope the campaign will remind people that if they plan on drinking, to never get behind the wheel,” she said.
“But if someone does choose to drive impaired, we will arrest them. No warnings. No excuses,” she added.
People arrested for DWI face jail time, loss of their driver license, and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of job. When family, friends and co-workers find out, violators also often face tremendous personal embarrassment.
The ultimate strategy behind the campaign is to be visible, be vigilant and let local motorists know that drunk driving is not an option. Law enforcement agencies have many tools at their disposal to make the 2014 crackdown the most successful yet, including enlisting the support of local and social media outlets to publicize the increased saturation of patrols, and other high-visibility enforcement efforts.
It isn’t just about making arrests — these high-profile, national crackdowns save lives. Research suggests that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.
- One in three traffic fatalities are alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
- Of the 390 people killed in traffic crashes nationally over Labor Day weekend in 2012, one in four were in crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher – that’s almost double the legal limit.
- Nighttime is especially dangerous. More than three-fourths of all drunk-driving fatalities over Labor Day weekend in 2012 occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.
- Young drivers from 18 to 34 years old are over represented in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, especially over the Labor Day holiday. That weekend in 2012, 48 percent of young drivers killed in crashes were drunk. In every state, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink at all.
SAFETY TIPS FOR DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS
Here are some tips to help motorists and passengers keep safe this Labor Day holiday:
- Plan a safe way home before you start Labor Day festivities.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver. If you wait until you’re impaired, you’re more likely to make a bad decision.
- If you’ve been drinking, take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately. You could save a life.
- If you know someone who is about to operate a motorcycle or drive while drunk, be a true friend and take his keys. Help him make other arrangements to get home safely.
For more information, visit the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Campaign Headquarters at http://www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.