The Waynesfield Police Department is joining 10,000 other law enforcement agencies from around the nation in support of an intensive crackdown on impaired driving to begin today.
The enforcement period for the effort — “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” — extends through Labor Day, Sept. 5. As part of the enforcement, police are vowing to arrest everyone found driving over the legal alcohol limit.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in America fell from 2008 to 2009, but numbers are still too high, said Waynesfield Police Chief Nathan Motter.
In 2009, 10,839 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was at or above the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes was 21- to 24-years-old.
“All too often, innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences and the loss of loved ones due to this careless disregard for human life,” Motter said.
“Because we’re committed to ending the carnage, we’re intensifying enforcement during the crackdown,” he said. “Since twice as many alcohol-impaired accidents occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, we will be especially vigilant during these high-risk times when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads.”
Across the country, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher, but according to the latest data, nearly a third of fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involve a driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC above the legal limit.
The nationwide drinking and driving crackdown is to include law enforcement officers in every state and many U.S. cities and towns.
Motter said his officers will be aggressively looking for all impaired drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone they find driving while impaired — regardless of age, vehicle type or time of day.
“Our message is simple and unwavering: if we find you driving impaired, we will arrest you, no exceptions,” Motter said.
“Even if you beat the odds and manage to walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can still destroy your life,” he said.
Motter said violaters often face jail time, loss of their driver licenses or are sentenced to use ignition interlocks. Insurance rates go up and it often means other financial hits as well, including attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of job or job prospects. When family, friends and coworkers find out, violators also can face tremendous personal embarrassment and humiliation.
“Driving impaired is simply not worth all the consequences, so don’t take the chance,” Motter said.
“Remember, drive sober or get pulled over,” he said.