A mangled car in two pieces sits in front of Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, NJ, to remind students and parents alike the potential consequences of drinking and driving. The car was placed there on April 23, and will remain there for a week as the town heads into a season of proms, graduations, and parties. 

“I hope that the students of Ridge High School will see the dire consequences of 'Driving Under the Influence'" said Hersh Gupta, a student at Ridge High School. "We learn about the legal repercussions and only visualize the look of a car that has been destroyed by someone 'Driving Under the Influence'. This car, having been totaled in a drinking related accident shows our community this could happen to you.”

Gupta is one of two student representatives that serve on the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance as well as a member of the student group, Ridge Against Alcohol & Drugs (RAAD). Gupta and the Alliance have discussed the idea of the DUI car for a few months now in their meetings.

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The goal of having the car placed in front of the high school is to warn both students and parents that drinking and driving could have serious consequences. With the cooperation of the school and help of Bernards Township Police Officer Tracy Baldassare, who is also a member of the Alliance, the car was placed in front of Ridge High School in time for prom season, with Ridge High School Junior prom being this Friday, April 29th.

A poster board in front of the roped off display reads, “Think of your family, think of your fate. Then think before making that fatal mistake. Don’t Drink and Drive” with a link to the Alliance’s website. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014 which accounted for one-third (31%) of all traffic related deaths in the United States. Of the 1,070 traffic related deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years, 209 (19%) involved an alcohol-impaired drive. Over half (116) were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver. The car out in front of Ridge High School had a case no different, with the accident involving it resulting in a double fatality, including a child, due to a driver being under the influence. It’s important to note that since the drinking age in New Jersey was raised to 21 in 1983, the number of young people killed in drunk driving accidents has dropped nearly 78%.

The Bernards Township Municipal Alliance reminds parents and students to stay safe as the township approaches a season full of celebrations, and that “It’s 21 for a Reason”. Alcohol should only be served to and consumed by responsible individuals over the age of 21. “Buzzed” driving is still “drunk” driving and can result in a horrific crash like the one being displayed at Ridge High School. Parents and students should not take any chances with their future or the lives of others.

The Alliance would also like to thank Mike’s Towing and Recovery in Bridgewater for donating their services, equipment, and time for the display. For more information on the Alliance’s campaign “It’s 21 for a Reason” and other parent and party tips, visit www.bernardsalliance.org.

The mission of the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse is to provide consultation, programs, training and resources to members of the Bernards Township community with the goal of preventing and reducing the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs through education, support of events and programs and presence in the community. For more information, visit www.bernardsalliance.org.