Law enforcement watching for drunk drivers over holiday weekend

(Posted Sept. 2, 2020)

Labor Day is always a great opportunity to acknowledge the unofficial end of summer. Unfortunately, it usually means more drunk drivers on the roads which can turn a happy afternoon into a tragedy. Since 2015, 320 alcohol-related crashes have occurred on Madison County roads. More than 63 percent of those crashes occurred on weekends between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

This Labor Day holiday, to help keep people safe on the streets and put an end to drunk driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is joining local law enforcement in support of the 2020 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Since Aug. 19, law enforcement officers nationwide have been participating in high-visibility enforcement, pulling over and arresting drunk drivers in an effort to protect community members.

Drunk driving isn’t just an issue during Labor Day. In 2018, one person died every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in America. These deaths account for approximately one-third of all traffic deaths each year, with 10,511 deaths occurring in 2018, alone. Even with drunk driving being illegal across the country, the numbers remain similar year after year. Ultimately, drinking and driving is a choice, and it is a choice that puts all road users at risk.

The decision to not drink and drive should never be a tough one. Drunk driving is illegal and can be deadly — to the driver, to his or her passengers, and to other road users. Law enforcement will be out on high alert, seeking out drunk drivers during the holiday period, showing zero tolerance for anyone driving drunk. Drunk drivers will be arrested — no excuses. This news should not come as a shock; everyone knows it is against the law to drive impaired in every state and Washington DC.

During the 2018 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. Aug. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Sept. 4), there were 439 crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-three percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). More than one-third (38 percent) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and nearly one-fourth (24 percent) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC). Age is a particularly risky factor. Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2018, 47 percent were drunk with BACs of .08 or higher.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national high-visibility enforcement campaign ends on Sept. 7. However, law enforcement’s commitment to enforcing drunk-driving laws never ends. Drunk driving is never okay. If you are planning to drink, plan ahead for a sober ride home. Even one drink is one too many. Remember these tips for a safe night on the roads:

  • 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 see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
  • Do you know someone who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.

Ultimately, drunk driving is 100-percent preventable. Don’t make the choice to put yourself and others at risk.

For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.

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