The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched its Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign just in time for Labor Day.
The phrase sounds catchy, but what does it really mean?
The campaign, which runs from August 18 to September 4, focuses on law enforcement to end drunk driving accidents.
Labor Day weekend is notorious for excessive alcohol consumption. The increased threat of a DWI will dissuade at least some drinkers from driving.
Dallas and Fort Worth police departments will be on high alert. They may even set up roadblocks to randomly check drivers for intoxication. Even a very careful drunk driver — which is an oxymoron — risks a DWI.
And that tactic of not blowing? A no-refusal policy means judges are available to issue warrants to test suspected drunk drivers for blood alcohol content.
I wish these policies were employed every day in Dallas-Fort Worth. Intoxicated people might think twice with a greater chance of being arrested. Those who drove anyway could be stopped before they injured others.
Plan while you can
Texas has another message for this holiday weekend: Plan while you can. This makes a lot of sense. If you know you’re going to have a drink, why not arrange your ride home ahead of time.
As the TxDOT points out, the designated driver should not be the person who is least drunk, but rather a person who has consumed zero alcohol. This might be a sober friend or a taxi driver.
A person who has had “only a couple of drinks,” as the saying goes, may still be over the legal limit. What could those drinks cost? Arrest, loss of driver’s license, up to $17,000 in fines, and incarceration, if the driver gets pulled over. Her life and the lives of her friends or strangers if she wrecks.
Data paints a frightening picture
Law enforcement agencies also collect crucial data during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns. The statistics demonstrate how dire the situation is.
35,092 people died in traffic accidents in 2015. Twenty-nine percent were alcohol related.
Prior to 2015 our nation had experienced a steady decline in fatal traffic crashes, and in alcohol related crashes in particular. Sadly, this positive trend didn’t last. Overall traffic deaths increased by 7.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, including a 3.2 percent increase in drunk driving fatalities. The drunk driving death toll was 9,943 in 2014 and 10,265 the next year.
In Texas, a DUI-related crash occurs every 21 minutes and 18 seconds. This already shocking number increases during the three-day Labor Day weekend. Texas reported 359 alcohol-related crashes on Labor Day in 2015 that resulted in 12 deaths and 36 serious injuries.
Statistics can start to sound like a long list of numbers. But, for every number, there is a person whose life has been cut short and a devastated family.
I have covered drunk driving accidents extensively in my blog and am publishing posts on MADD’s website to guide victims of drunk driving crashes through the legal system. I handle many DUI accident claims in my personal injury law practice and understand how horrible, and yet totally preventable, drunk driving accidents can be.
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend! And be safe!