Drunk driving crackdown underway in NJ
Law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey plan to combat drunk and impaired drivers during the annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, which starts on Dec. 5.
More than $1.2 million in grants will be given to 165 police departments for the campaign, according to the Division of Highway Traffic Safety (DHTS). The grants, which total $7,500 each per police department, will be used to pay for the sobriety checkpoints, extra staff hours and other expenses needed to run the campaign.
The timing of the annual campaign is always critical, according to Mitchell Sklar, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. "It is a time when there's a higher number of people on the road who are above the legal limit, who are impaired."
According to DHTS, there were 1,575 driving while intoxicated arrests during the 2013 "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. In addition, police issued 4,728 speeding summonses and 3,269 seat belt summonses.
In New Jersey, a person is guilty of drunk driving if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 percent or greater. A first offense includes a one-year driver's license suspension and a fine of up to $500.
Sklar said that no one likes to be pulled over or challenged for any driving infraction, but this is something law enforcement takes very serious. "We are talking about a very serious issue - impaired driving. It's important for the police to be out there enforcing the drunk driving laws."
In December 2012, 830 people were killed in drunk driving related crashes, according to DHTS. On average, 31 percent of all crash fatalities in the U.S. involves drunk driving.
"If you are caught drinking and driving impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses," said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of DHTS, in an emailed press release on Dec. 4.
The campaign runs through Jan. 2.