By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
Police departments in the area — including Princeton, Lawrence, West Windsor and Plainsboro — will be on the lookout for intoxicated drivers during the annual holiday season “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” statewide campaign.
Between Dec. 11 and New Year’s Day, police officers will conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints. The national campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving through a combination of high-visibility enforcement and public education.
Last year, 22 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey were alcohol-related. And nationally, more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk-driving crashes.
“The holiday season is traditionally a time to have fun and be with family and friends, but don’t let a bad decision to drive while under the influence ruin your holiday,” said Lawrence Township Chief of Police Mark Ubry.
Princeton Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter agreed. He said that alcohol “dangerously” impairs one’s driving skills and one’s judgment. If someone has had too much to drink, “make sure you can rely on a designated driver to safely drive you home, or contact a local tax driver,” he urged.
“If you see someone under the influence of alcohol, be a good friend and don’t let them drive,” Chief Sutter said.
West Windsor Township police want the motoring public to be as safe as possible during the holiday season, said Sgt. Mark Lee. Obviously, there will be holiday parties at the office, and with friends and family, he said.
Sgt. Lee pointed to an accident involving a West Windsor Township police officer and an intoxicated driver that occurred last month. The police officer had just completed an investigation of a motorist and was climbing back into his patrol car. Another driver — who was intoxicated — struck the patrol car.
“If an intoxicated driver hit a police car with all of its (blue and red) lights flashing, he’ll hit anything. We will be out there, looking for intoxicated drivers,” Sgt. Lee said.
The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is a critical law enforcement program that can save lives during a time of year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent, said Plainsboro Chief of Police Guy Armour.
“This initiative brings attention to the serious consequences of drunk driving and the grave danger those who choose to drink and drive pose to all who share the road with them,” Chief Armour said.
Police concur that if someone is too intoxicated to drive, he or she should either spend the night where the party or event is being held, or choose an alternate means of getting home — call a taxicab, take mass transit or call a friend or family member to drive them home.
That recommendation applies to anyone who either arrived at the social event in a car, or who walked to it. Pedestrians who are intoxicated should call someone to drive them home or escort them to the front door.
If someone sees an impaired driver on the road, the police should be contacted. That action — calling the police — could save someone’s life, while failing to act could cost someone their life if they become involved in an accident, authorities said.
By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer