Wicomico, MD— This time of year, with all the holiday parties and festive occasions, many party-goers will be drinking. If you’re celebrating with alcohol this holiday season, the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office has a message for you: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around the holidays each year, law enforcement agencies across America will be out in force December 12-January 1, 2015—actively searching for drunk drivers. The facts are grim: in December 2012 there were 830 people killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher; 26 of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day. On average, a third (31%) of all crash fatalities in America involves drunk driving. But on Christmas day 2012, the percentage jumps to 36 percent.
“It’s time for all drivers to get the message,” said Sheriff Michael A. Lewis “that drunk driving isn’t a victimless crime. You could kill yourself or someone else, or get a DUI and go to jail.” It’s illegal in every state to drive over the limit of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL). And it might not take as much alcohol as you think to get there. So the safest approach is to only drive sober. If you plan on drinking at a holiday party, bar, or restaurant, let someone else do the driving – a sober friend, a taxi or public transportation.
Every year, more than 10,322 people are killed by drunk drivers in America. It’s one of the primary missions of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to drastically reduce this toll on our Nation. So as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign period, police will be increasing their number of patrols, setting up roadblocks, and using local media to reach all drivers. If you’re drinking and driving, Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies will find and arrest you. No warnings, no excuses. You’ll face jail time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, towing fees, and other DUI expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. Not to mention the humiliation among your family, friends, and workplace.
Some people think that if they get pulled over for driving drunk, they can just refuse a breath test to avoid the DUI charge. “Not true,” says Sheriff Lewis “In most jurisdictions, refusing a breath test means an automatic arrest, and loss of your driver’s license on the spot.” The only way to truly avoid a DUI is to drive sober. There are many ways to get home safely after drinking, and driving isn’t one of them. Designate a sober driver ahead of time, or call a friend or family member. You could also use public transportation or call a taxi. The cost of cab fare is nothing compared to a $10,000 DUI or the cost of someone’s life, and the ‘inconvenience’ of not driving your own car home is nothing compared to the inconvenience of spending the holidays behind bars.
In addition to reminding all drivers to drive sober, Sheriff Lewis is calling on everyone to be alert. If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the police right away—you could save a life. If someone you know is about to drive after drinking, take their keys and help them get home safely. “We’ve got to work together to make our roads safer this December and year-round,” he said.
Some startling data from NHTSA shows that during the holiday season in 2012, 40 percent of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior DUI on their record. And many offenders are young drivers: during that same holiday period 37 percent of the 21- to 24-year old drivers in fatal crashes were drunk. Surprisingly, almost 1 out of 6 drivers under the age of 21 in those fatal crashes were also drunk, even though they’re too young to legally buy or consume alcohol.
“We can’t stand to see this tragic loss of life again and again,” added Sheriff Mike Lewis. “It’s heartbreaking to drive up to a house all decorated for the holidays, and knock on the door to deliver such terrible news. So leading up to the holidays, we are really cracking down, and we will show zero tolerance for drunk drivers on the road.”
Wicomico drivers, please follow these tips to keep the holidays safe and happy:
• Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk—or worse, the risk of having a crash.
• If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the party begins.
• If you have been drinking, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation.
Remember, it is never safe to drink and drive: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Releasing Authority: Captain Babe Wilson
Date: December 9, 2014