SUMMIT, NJ — “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a national event that launched in 1999, committed to reducing deaths from impaired driving. The Summit Police Department has been participating since that time, according to Amy Cairns, chief communications officer.
The national event is from Friday, Aug. 18, through Monday, Sept. 4. The Summit Police Department received a grant for $7,000 from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety to initiate the campaign that is focused on removing impaired drivers from the roads and preventing tragedies. More patrols will be on the road during that period.
Cairns said that during the time of Labor Day, there’s an increase in drunk deaths, adding, “We want to help educate people and understand the consequences of driving drunk and reduce the number of accidents.”
According to the 2023 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Fact Sheet, historically, the summer months tend to be more dangerous on the roads. In August 2021, drunk driving accounted for 31% of traffic crash fatalities. During the 2021 Labor Day holiday weekend, there were 531 crash fatalities nationwide. Of these 531 traffic crash fatalities, 41% or 216 of the fatalities involved a drunk driver.
Although it’s illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2021, one person was killed every 39 minutes in a drunk-driving crash on our nation’s roads.
The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2021 was 2.8 times more at night than during the day.
The average DUI costs $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rate, and more. If you’re caught drinking and driving, you can face jail time. That arrest will follow you for many years to come.
In the past five years, the Summit Police Department has “really taken it up a notch,” according to Cairns, by promoting and raising awareness; focusing on education and outreach; as well as enforcement. “Those two things go hand in hand, helping educate people,” she said.
For the past five years, Cairns assures that there have been no fatalities associated with drunk driving in Summit. “We’ve been fortunate, discouraging that behavior,” she said. “Young people have a designated driver and that’s what we want to see. With our tips, we say ‘Have a designated sober driver before you start drinking. Plan in advance and avoid trouble and breaking the law.’”
Tips from the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign include:
• Always driving 100 percent sober. Even one alcoholic beverage could be one too many.
• Before you have one drink, designate a sober driver to get you home safely.
• Designate a sober driver or call a taxi or rideshare.
• If it’s your turn to be the designated driver, take your job seriously and don’t drink.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Summit Police Department at 9-1-1.
• If you have a friend who is about to drink and drive, take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.