GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Police Department made the following announcement:
If you’re enjoying the holidays with a drink, The Glen Ridge Police Department has a message for you: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Due to the increase in drunken-driving-related fatalities around the holidays each year, law-enforcement agencies across America will be actively searching for and arresting drunken drivers from Wednesday, Dec. 16, to Friday, Jan. 1. They have good reason for this effort: In 2013, 10,076 people in the United States were killed in crashes involving a drunken driver. In December 2013 alone there were 733 people killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Twenty-three of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day.
The Glen Ridge Police Department is joining with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to share the message: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. The safest way to get home, Lt. Fred Egnezzo said, is to drive sober or catch a ride with a sober designated driver. If you plan on drinking at the holiday party or at a restaurant, hand the keys over to someone else — a sober friend, a taxi or public transportation. Or, try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available for Android and iPhone users.
As part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement-campaign period, police will be increasing the number of patrols, setting up roadblocks and using local media to reach out to all drivers. If you’re drinking and driving, Glen Ridge Police officers will stop you. If you’re caught drinking and driving you could face jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, towing fees and other DUI expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. That’s not a small price, and that doesn’t even count the heftier price you could pay: the price of your life or someone else’s.
Some people think that if they get pulled over for driving drunk, they can just refuse a breath test to avoid the DUI charge. This is not true. In New Jersey motor-vehicle law, refusing a breath test essentially means you are forfeiting your right to a not-guilty plea. Additionally, conviction of a refusal results in being referred to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. The only way to truly avoid a DUI is to drive sober or designate a sober driver ahead of time. There other options, such as calling a friend, family member, using public transportation or calling a taxi. The cost of cab fare is nothing compared to a $10,000 DUI or the cost of someone’s life, and the “inconvenience” of not driving your own car home is nothing compared to the inconvenience of spending the holidays behind bars.
In addition to reminding all drivers to drive sober, Egnezzo is calling on everyone to be alert. If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the police right away. If someone you know is about to drive after drinking, take their keys and help them get home safely.
Drivers should follow these tips to keep the holidays safe and happy:
• Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk — or worse, the risk of having a crash.
• If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before the party begins.
• If you have been drinking, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
• Remember, driving after drinking should never be an option. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.