Think twice before getting behind the wheel after a few drinks.

New Jersey's largest annual drunk driving crackdown kicks off Friday. Expect to see roving patrols and DWI checkpoints statewide through Labor Day for the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

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Bob Gaydosh, a regional program supervisor with the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety, points out that drunk driving is a serious issue that warrants this kind of attention.

"Over the past five years, there's been a total of 41,000 alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey and 800 fatalities. It equates to about 160 fatalities per year, which make up about 30 percent of our overall motor vehicle fatalities," said Gaydosh.

All 496 police agencies in New Jersey have been invited to participate in the two week campaign, and Gaydosh noted that 361 departments took part in 2015, and about the same number are expected to again this year.

"We have awarded out 164 agencies with grants to do some overtime enforcement during the campaign," Gaydosh said.

Several Jersey Shore communities participating in the drunk driving campaign include Marlboro, Wall, Point Pleasant, Toms River and Pine Beach.

If last year's results are any indication of what to expect during this year's drunk driving crackdown, Gaydosh anticipated it will be successful.

"We had 361 police departments participate in this campaign last year. They made 1,786 DWI arrests during the two week period," he said.

High visibility enforcement is the national model for traffic safety, and it works, according to Gaydosh.

"It's what we see during the Click It or Tick It Seat Belt Campaign, during this drunk driving campaign, and others. It's very targeted, high visibility enforcement by the police, backed by public awareness and messaging, and we know that these campaigns do work," Gaydosh said.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over 2016 crackdown advise planning a designated driver before going out, making other transportation arrangements, or spending the night where you are if you drink alcohol.

State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams says anyone who suspects a driver is drunk to dial #77 in order to report the motorist.

"If you see someone who's driving aggressively, changing lanes, speeding, slowing down, failing to maintain a single lane, swerving in and out, [those] are all indications that a person may be under the influence," said Williams.

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Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com

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