Roadway safety: ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’

Law enforcement officers from throughout the county are joining together in an effort to encourage people to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office and Wapakoneta Police Department plan to take part in the national campaign to reduce impaired driving and roadway fatalities beginning today and extending through the end of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3. The local agencies make a concentrated effort to work together to stop impaired drivers on county roads every year at this time.

Additional officers are to be on Auglaize County roadways with patrols targeted on high problem areas. T    Lt. Scott Carrico, commander of the Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said they are using federal overtime hours to beef up their impaired driving enforcement efforts, while Wapakoneta Police Chief Russ Hunlock also plans on bringing in extra patrols each weekend.

Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said his deputies are going to be out looking for those not obeying the law, but specifically plans to target areas where complaints of speeding, running stop signs, and other violations have been high.

“That’s where we will be targeting our extra patrol in the area,” Solomon said.

“We want people to have a good, safe holiday with their family and friends, but we want them to think and be careful,” he said, adding that they have seen more people using designated drivers and leaving their cars parked somewhere overnight after they’ve been drinking.

He said he wants that to continue, for people to be smart and take precautions.

“We don’t want to run into you as much as you don’t want to run into us, but we will be looking a little closer because we want everyone to be safe,” Solomon said.

More than 10,000 law enforcement agencies across the country are joining the campaign to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and Carrico said when they can work together like this it makes an even bigger impact.

Violators may face jail time, loss of their driver licenses, and steep financial consequences, such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of jobs, as well as personal embarrassment.

“Stopping impaired drivers and reducing fatalities is a goal we all have,” Carrico said. “The more officers we can have on the roads, the more vehicles we can make contact with and remove drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol from our roadways.”

Nationally, the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign focuses on high visibility enforcement supported by national advertising efforts.

It is illegal in all 50 states to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter, but despite the law, more than 10,000 people died in crashes in which a driver was impaired in 2010. That year 147 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol content levels at or above the legal limit.

“On average, there is one alcohol impaired driving-related fatality every 51 minutes across America, but this tragic loss of life can be reduced if we get impaired drivers off our roadways,” Carrico said.

“Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces alcohol-impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent,” he said. “By joining this nationwide effort, we will make Auglaize County’s roadways safer for everyone thoughout the Labor Day period.”

Hunlock said obviously, they want to remind everyone that it is illegal to drive impaired and they hope the campaign helps with that.

“If they plan on drinking, they should never get behind the wheel, but if someone does choose to drive impaired, we will arrest them. No warnings, no excuses,’ ” Hunlock said.