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NJ Holiday Drunk Driving Crackdown Underway [AUDIO]

Law enforcement officials will be cracking down on drunk drivers as part of the annual holiday season “Drive Sober, Or Get Pulled Over” statewide drunk driving enforcement campaign.

DWI checkpoint
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

More than 400 law enforcement agencies in the state will begin sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols this weekend, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced.

The crackdowns began on December 7th and runs until January 2nd. More than $400,000 will be distributed to 95 participating agencies in the form of a $4,400 grant from the Division and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) to help fund the patrols.

The holiday season is a particularly dangerous time on the road. During December 2010, 30 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved alcohol-impaired drivers. Data also shows that among those alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, 71 percent occurred when drivers had nearly twice the legal limit blood alcohol concentration.

“Lots of folks will be out during this busy holiday season, enjoying themselves and the holiday festivities, and we want everyone to be safe on our roadways,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “That’s why we will be stepping up enforcement to catch and arrest impaired drivers. If you are caught drinking and driving impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.”

“No one ever thinks that their holiday celebration will end in jail, or worse, in a hospital or the morgue,” Poedubicky said. “But for those who include alcohol in their celebrations and then get behind the wheel, this is often the case.”

In 2011, there were 152 fatalities directly attributed to impaired driving in the state, accounting for 24 percent of the 627 total crash fatalities.

In the winter of 2011, the holiday crackdowns resulted in 1,877 Driving While Intoxicated arrests. In addition, participating police agencies issued 8,345 speeding summonses and 4,420 seat belt summonses, and more than 2,000 fugitives were apprehended during the mobilization.

“This is a comprehensive program…police officers are looking for speeders, those who are talking or using hand-held cell phones, not wearing seat belts, but the primary focus is cracking down on impaired drivers, whether its for alcohol or drugs,” said Poedubicky.

The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following advice to ensure a safe holiday travel season for those who choose to drink alcohol:

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.

“We want everyone to have a safe, happy and enjoyable holiday and stay alive on our roadways,” added Poedubicky.

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