FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2011
Contact: Barbara Harsha
202-789-0942, ext. 12
States Cracking Down on Drunk Drivers
September 2nd is the Second Most Deadly Day of the Year on Roadways
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Drunk driving is not an accident – it’s blatant disregard for human life. In 2009, nearly 11,000 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was at or above the legal alcohol limit. This is why GHSA's member State Highway Safety Offices are joining forces with the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and local officials to conduct the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Labor Day drunk driving crackdown.
During this year's crackdown, which began August 19 and runs through September 5, police in every state are out in full force conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols to catch drunk drivers. This high visibility law enforcement is supported by $13 million in national and state advertisements.
GHSA Chairman Vernon F. Betkey, Jr. notes that Labor Day Weekend is a dangerous time on our nation’s roadways. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, September 2 is the second most deadly day of the year. According to Betkey, “To keep our friends and neighbors safe, our partners in law enforcement will be out in force looking for drunk and drugged drivers.”
According to Betkey, ignition interlocks are a promising technology to deter drunk driving. These devices, connected to a car’s ignition, monitor the presence of alcohol in the driver and prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected. Fourteen states and four California counties have made ignition interlocks mandatory or highly incentivized for all convicted drunk drivers, even convicted first-time offenders. Utilizing funding from NHTSA and the Centers for Disease Control, GHSA is conducting research to help states develop the most effective ignition interlock programs.
States across the nation are actively participating in the crackdown. Among state highlights:
- The California Highway Patrol is mounting a holiday weekend Maximum Enforcement campaign, with 80 percent of available officers on the roads.
- The Rhode Island Office on Highway Safety conducted a “wet lab” (a monitored drinking period where volunteers consume alcoholic beverages and then participate in a series of sobriety tests) and invited the media to attend to show them what happens when a drug or alcohol impaired driver gets pulled over.
- In Texas, numerous communities are conducting "No Refusal" weekends, an enforcement strategy that allows jurisdictions to quickly obtain search warrants for blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath tests.
- To encourage full participation by law enforcement, the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Program offers rewards – in the form of police equipment – to all agencies that complete specific campaign requirements.
- Washington Traffic Safety Commission has an ambitious earned media effort highlighting the three weeks of extra DUI patrols and Hailey’s Law—a new statute requiring a 12 hour impound for all DUI arrestees’ cars.
A full list of state-specific crackdown efforts is available on GHSA's website.
For current drunk driving laws, visit: www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/impaired_laws.html.
To view the announcement from the U.S. DOT, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
# # #
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.