Statement issued Thursday:
Saving lives this holiday season is the motivating force behind this latest effort to crack down on impaired drivers. The increased enforcement effort is being conducted in conjunction with the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown and will extend through the holidays and conclude on January 2nd. Police agencies from around the country will be participating in the crackdown. The initiative comes on the heels of a recent report that shows alcohol-related fatalities are on the decline.
“While we are encouraged to report that last year alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased nationwide nearly 5 percent, drunk driving is still one of America’s deadliest crimes. In 2010, 10,228 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. A total of 415 alcohol-impaired fatalities occurred during the second half of December alone,” according to Michael Witter, Region 5 Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“It is clear that our work is far from over. Too many people continue to suffer tragic injuries and the loss of a loved one as a result of this serious crime,” Witter continued. “That is the reason why law enforcement agencies throughout the Midwest and nationwide will be intensifying enforcement efforts against drunk drivers this holiday weekend,” he continued.
“Police will be out in force making sure drunk drivers are off the road,” Witter said. "Our message to drivers is clear: if you decide to drink, find a safe and sober ride home or you will be pulled over. No exceptions. No excuses,” he added.
Witter recommends designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk as just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead. Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Use your community’s Sober Rides program.
• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.
• Wear your seat belt or use protective gear on your motorcycle. This is your best defense against an impaired driver.
“Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. It is deadly serious and against the law. Violators will be spending their money on bail, court, lawyers and towing fees instead of buying holiday presents for loved ones. Let me assure you, it is not the way to end the year,” Witter concluded.