REGION: Drunk driving details begin

Thanks to state grants, many area police agencies will be out this holiday season looking for drunk drivers.

by Charles W. Kim, Packet Media Group
TRENTON — Thanks to state grants, many area police agencies will be out this holiday season looking for drunk drivers.
   According to the state, 400 law enforcement agencies throughout the state are participating in the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
   Some 144 of those agencies, including towns in our coverage area including Florence, Mansfield and New Hanover will each get $4,400 in state funds to help pay for the stepped up patrols between Dec. 6 through Jan. 2, according to a press release from the state.
   ”During the holiday season, law enforcement officials always see a jump in the number of drunk and impaired drivers,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “Police will be targeting those drivers and once again this effort will send the message that if you chose to drink and drive, you will be arrested every time, no exception.”
   According to the release, a person is guilty of drunk driving in New Jersey if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater.
   Although the law refers to a 0.08 percent BAC, you can be convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor even when your BAC is below 0.08 percent, the release stated.
   Consuming even small amounts of alcohol dulls the senses, decreases reaction time, and hampers judgment, vision and alertness, according to the state.
   If you consume any amount of alcohol and your driving is negatively impacted, you can be convicted of drunk driving, according to the release.
   Mr. Poedubicky said the penalties for a first DWI arrest include fines of up to $500 and a one-year driver’s license suspension.
   Violators can also expect auto insurance surcharges of several thousand dollars, according to the release.
   ”No one ever thinks that their holiday celebration will end in jail, or worse, in a hospital,” Mr. Poedubicky said. “But for those who include alcohol in their celebrations and then get behind the wheel, this is often the case.”
   According to the release, there were 158 fatalities directly attributed to impaired driving in the state last year, accounting for 27 percent of the 589 total crash fatalities.
   The last holiday crackdowns resulted in 1,555 driving while intoxicated arrests.
   In addition, participating police agencies issued 5,138 speeding summonses and 3,113 seat belt summonses, and more than 1,600 fugitives were apprehended during the mobilization, according to the release.