Before you indulge in Christmas cheer, keep in mind: Having a single drink before getting behind the wheel could put you in danger of hurting someone -- including yourself -- or getting arrested, New Jersey law enforcement authorities warn.
“Many people believe that after a few drinks they’re still safe to drive,” said Gary Poedubicky, who heads the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “Even one drink can impair your judgment and reaction time, putting not only yourself but everyone on the road in danger.
“If drivers are caught operating their vehicle while impaired, they will be arrested,” he added.
Through New Year's Day 2017, local and state law enforcement officers will be out and about -- on highways and local roads -- looking for drunk or impaired drivers. That means more saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints as part of the annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" end-of-the-year campaign..
"This is a critical law enforcement program that can save lives during a time of the year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent,” Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said Thursday.
More than 800 people have died in alcohol-related crashes on New Jersey roadways over the past five years, records show. In that time, police statewide reported 41,000 DWI crashes.
Last year, 29% of all crash deaths in New Jersey were alcohol-related, authorities said.
Nationally, more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk-driving crashes. The associated "societal cost" is estimated to be $37 billion annually.
Law enforcement agencies participating in this season’s crackdown advise:
⦁ If you’re intoxicated and hoofing it, the safest way to get home is to take a cab, Uber or mass transit or have a sober friend or family member drive you to your doorstep -- don't walk;
⦁ Spend the night where the activity or party is held;
⦁ If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life --inaction could cost one;
⦁ Always buckle-up -- every ride. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver;
⦁ If you are intoxicated and walking, 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;
⦁ Be responsible: If someone you know is drinking, DON'T let that person get behind the wheel.