Having a single drink before getting behind the wheel could put you in danger of hurting someone -- including yourself -- or getting arrested, say law enforcement authorities who are preparing for New Jersey’s largest annual zero-tolerance drunk-driving crackdown.
Beginning Friday and running through Sept. 5, the national "Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign features sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols by more than 360 local, county and state law enforcement agencies.
“Many people believe that after a few drinks they’re still safe to drive,” said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of 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.
A full 27% of motor vehicle-related deaths in New Jersey in 2013 involved alcohol, Poedubicky noted.
During last year's Labor Day-related crackdown, police statewide:
- Made 1,786 DWI arrests (alcohol or drugs);
- Issued 5,964 speeding tickets;
- Wrote 3,361 seat belt summonses.
Police and sheriff's officers in Bergen County made 101 alcohol-related and 13 drug-related arrests during last year's two-week unofficial-end-of-summer campaign.
They also issued 794 speeding tickets, 538 careless driver tickets and 338 summonses for illegal cellphone use, as well as 318 for seat belt violations and 54 child restraint offenses.
Police and sheriff's officers in Passaic County made 40 alcohol-related and 14 drug-related arrests and issued 172 summonses for speeding, 134 for seat belt violations, 15 for child restraint violations, and 14 for reckless driving.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety provides grants to local law enforcement agencies throughout the state to run the two-week campaign.
The division advises:
⦁ If you plan to drink, designate a driver -- someone who won't drink alcohol -- before going out;
⦁ Take mass transit, a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home;
⦁ Spend the night where the activity is held;
⦁ 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 hoofing it, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive you to your doorstep -- don't walk.
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