Coalition promotes safe alternatives to drinking and driving

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Representatives of the Madison County Safe Communities Coalition gathered in London on Aug. 24 to kick off their annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

(Posted Sept. 2, 2021)

Many Americans look to the Labor Day holiday weekend as the unofficial end of summertime. No matter how you plan to celebrate the end of the season this year, make sure you plan it safely.

This Labor Day weekend, law enforcement in Madison County are participating in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” impaired driving awareness campaign which runs from Aug. 18 through Sept. 6. In support of the law enforcement community’s dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, the public will see officers working together during this holiday weekend to take drunk drivers off the roads. These expanded efforts to protect against impaired driving will be conducted in a fair and equitable way.

The Madison County Safe Communities Coalition brought awareness to area residents during their annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” kickoff on Aug. 24. The coalition had an impaired driving simulator and pledge cards at the WIC Farmers’ Market outside of Madison County Public Health’s office in London. Agencies present at the event were Madison County Public Health, Madison County Prosecutor’s Office, Madison County Emergency Management Agency, City of London, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, London Police Department, West Jefferson Police Department, Plain City Police Department, and the West Jefferson Post of the State Highway Patrol.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 that involved an alcohol-impaired driver. This is why Madison County Safe Communities is working together with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.

“We want our community members to understand that it’s our first priority to keep people safe, so we’re asking everyone to plan ahead if they know they’ll be out drinking,” said Michael Klamo, Madison County assistant prosecuting attorney. “We need commitment from our community members that they’ll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it takes lives. Let’s make this a partnership between law enforcement and drivers. Help us protect the community and put an end to this senseless behavior.”

Madison County law enforcement agencies and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely.

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior, especially when there are so many safe alternatives to get you home safely,” Klamo said. “OVI is the only misdemeanor in Ohio which carries mandatory jail time on a first offense. Designating a sober driver is the easiest way to avoid charges, jail time, and hefty fines and legal fees.”

Madison County Safe Communities Coalition recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
  • If you drink, call a taxi, a ride-hailing service, or a sober friend.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement.
  • Make sure you do not allow anyone who has been drinking to drive. Take their keys and find a designated driver to take them home.
  • Buckle up – it is your first and best defense against intoxicated drivers

For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.

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