PATERSON, NJ -- The Paterson Police Department and Passaic County Sheriff's Office are among more 110 law enforcement agencies to be awarded grant funding to participate in a statewide effort to crack down on drunk and impaired driving between now and Labor Day.
The grants totals more than $540,000 statewide and is part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Both agencies, as well as neighboring Clifton, Passaic, and Woodland Park received $5,500 each. The funding will be used to staff "saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints."
The program, which runs from August 16 through September 3, is aimed at reducing highway crashes. The timing of the campaign is intentionally set to curtail impaired driving during the busy summer travel season, including the Labor Day holiday.
“The risks of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are enormous and the consequences are tragic,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “With rideshare apps and other forms of public transportation readily available, there’s no excuse for anyone to get behind the wheel impaired.”
In 2017, driving while intoxicated - either under the influence of alcohol or drugs - was listed as the major contributing factor in more than 25% of the 591 fatal crashes that occurred on New Jersey roads that year. Those 158 alcohol/drug-related crashes killed 174 people.
During a five-year period between 2013 and 2017, 678 individuals were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the state.
“Impaired driving remains one of the biggest traffic safety threats in New Jersey and combating it is a year-round priority in our state,” said Eric Heitmann, Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “As we head into the final weeks of summer and the busy Labor Day driving weekend, our officers will be stepping up those efforts, working longer hours and increasing sobriety checks to keep intoxicated drivers off the road. If you’re out there driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the odds are we’re going to stop you and arrest you.”
Last year, law enforcement agencies statewide dedicated an estimated 6,200 total enforcement hours to the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, including 20 fixed sobriety checkpoints. During the three-week initiative, more than 1,196 impaired driving arrests were made and an additional 4,764 speeding summonses and 3,194 seat belt citations were written.
Law enforcement agencies offered suggestions to motorists to avoid driving under the influence: designate a driver who will not drink alcohol before going out; take mass transit; spend the night where the activity is held; always buckle up, every ride, regardless of you position in the vehicle; and if you're intoxicated or traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober individual drive you to your doorstep.
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