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Jessica Marrone Parkes and Jackie Schatell

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Fairfield Police to conduct “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” throughout the Holiday Season

November 30, 2012 at 11:48 PM

FAIRFIELD, NJ - The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family to enjoy great food and beverages.  The Fairfield Police Department is here to make sure that everyone arrives to and from their events safely.

From December 7th until January 2nd, Fairfield officers will be participating in the NJ State Police campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”  Their intent will be to determine if anyone is driving while intoxicated by making use of sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. A saturation patrol is when a large number of officers are concentrated in one specific area, in this case, an area prone to drunk driving.

The department explained, “this campaign will help to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving through high-visibility enforcement and public education tools, including posters, banners and mobile video display signs.”

The program has been in effect since 1999.  While the holidays are some of the busiest times of the year for travel, they can also be the most deadly.

Chief Charles Voelker commented, “This program can save lives during a time of the year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent.  It will draw attention to the serious consequences of driving under the influence and the grave danger drunk drivers pose to all those who share the road with them.”

Fairfield Police are also asking the public to subscribe to the Ensign John R. Elliot HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers.  Non-drinking motorists pledge to “Drive sober, be a designated driver and don’t let friends drive drunk.”

According to the Hero Campaign’s website, “Our goal is simple: to register one million designated drivers and make having a designated driver be as automatic as wearing a seatbelt. The HERO Campaign is not an anti-drinking campaign.  Instead, we encourage common sense and responsibility by promoting individuals to 'Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver;' a message that appeals to the hero in all of us.”

John Elliott was a US Naval Academy graduate who was hoping to be a Navy Pilot.  In 2000, Elliott was driving home for his mother’s birthday and was killed by a drunk driver.  The driver had already been arrested for DUI, was released, got back into the car, drove, and killed himself and John as well.

While at the Academy, Elliot was distinguished as a Human Education Resource Officer (HERO) - one who mentors others in his class.   His fellow Midshipmen had selected him as the outstanding HERO of their graduating class.  The HERO campaign has now become a national model for preventing drunk driving.

The NJ State Division of Highway Safety issued a statement, “Impaired driving is one of the most often committed crimes, randomly killing someone in America every 30 minutes and nearly 50 people a day. That means you, your family or friends are just as likely to be innocent victims.  Nationally, impaired driving fatalities are on the rise. Almost 18,000 people are killed each year. About 250,000 people are injured.”

According to the Division of Highway Safety, last year in New Jersey, 152 people were killed as a result of alcohol-impaired crashes. That number is 24% of the total of 627 deaths due to traffic accidents in 2011.

The Division of Highway Safety continued, “If you're feeling  "buzzed'  you are most likely impaired. And if you drive impaired, law enforcement will arrest you. Violators can lose their licenses, time from their jobs, and lose money in high fines and court costs as well as face imprisonment for repeat offenses, assault and vehicular manslaughter.”

The Fairfield Police is committed to making their roads and neighborhood safe for their residents.  They’ve put together this list of ideas for those who drink alcohol at a gathering to ensure that the community remains protected:
* Choose a sober designated driver before partying.
* Take mass transit, a taxicab, or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
* Spend the night where the activity is held.
* If you’re intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive or escort you to your doorstep.
* Don't risk it. If you plan to drive, don't drink.

For those who are on the road and see someone they suspect may be intoxicated, they are encouraged to report those impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 on their cell phones to report a drunk driver.  

The Department also reminded:  “Always buckle-up, every ride. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.”

For more information:
Fairfield Police Department
Chief of Police:  Charles Voelker
Deputy Chief: Anthony Manna
230 Fairfield Road
Fairfield, NJ 07004

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