Everyone wants to enjoy the upcoming long weekend, but if you drink and drive, hand over the keys.
State and local police, along with PennDOT, will take part in a national enforcement effort through Labor Day, Sept. 3, targeting motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” effort will target impaired drivers and highlight the worsening problem of drugged driving.
“As we remind motorists to drive sober for the Labor Day holiday, we also want to raise awareness of the growing safety threat that drugged drivers present,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “While overall DUI crashes are trending downward, we’re seeing a troubling increase in drug-related crashes each year.”
PennDOT statistics for 2011 show there were 3,073 drug-related crashes statewide, with 116 fatalities in those crashes. That marks an increase from 2005, when there were 2,073 drug-related crashes and 89 fatalities in those crashes statewide.
In comparison, the same data shows that alcohol-related crashes decreased from 13,350 in 2005 to 11,778 in 2011. Fatalities in those crashes decreased from 582 in 2005 to 425 in 2011.
During last year’s Labor Day weekend, there were 111 alcohol-related crashes and three fatalities as well as 22 drug-related crashes.
“Motorists who drive while under the influence represent a significant danger – not only to themselves, but to everyone on the road,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. “During this nationwide campaign, troopers will be especially vigilant in identifying and removing impaired drivers from our highways. Enjoy the holiday, but make safety a priority.”
Statewide police statistics show that there were 50,413 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests in 2011, a decrease from 52,126 in 2010. Driving under the influence of drug arrests continue to account for a larger percentage of these arrests, with 13,907 such arrests in 2011, an increase from 11,808 in 2010.
The legal blood-alcohol content in Pennsylvania is 0.08 for motorists over the age of 21. For underage drivers, the blood-alcohol limit is 0.02 percent. Driving under the influence penalties can include jail time, license suspension and fines of between $500 and $5,000.
Pennsylvania’s DUI Task Forces, the Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement statewide will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols as part of the crackdown.
Funding comes from part of PennDOT’s statewide distribution of $4.2 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Visit www.JustDrivePA.com for more information on impaired driving and PennDOT’s other important traffic-safety initiatives.