Berks Police partner with NHTSA to curb impaired driving during Labor Day enforcement period

During the Labor Day holiday period, including the end of summertime and the busy holiday weekend, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be working alongside the law enforcement community in Berks County to decrease impaired driving.

From August 18 through September 4,Berks County Police will be participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement period. In support of the law enforcement community’s dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, you’ll see officers working together during this time to take drunk drivers off the roads. No matter how you plan to celebrate the end of summer this year, make sure you plan to do it safely.

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According to NHTSA, 13,384 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2021 — that’s one person every 39 minutes. On average, more than 11,000 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes each year from 2017 to 2021. This is why Berks County Police are working together with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal; it’s a matter of life and death. As you head out to festivities during the end of summer and Labor Day weekend, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

“We want our community members to understand that it’s our first priority to keep people safe, so we’re asking everyone to plan ahead if they know they’ll be out drinking,” said Sergeant David Bentz Exeter Twp. Police Department & Berks County Coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program.

“The Drive Sober campaign is an awareness effort to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal, and it takes lives. Let’s make this a partnership between law enforcement and drivers: Help us protect the community and put an end to this senseless behavior,” Bentz said. 

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During the 2021 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. September 3-5:59 a.m. September 7), there were 531 crash fatalities nationwide. Of these 531 traffic crash fatalities, 41% (216) involved a drunk driver, and more than a quarter (27%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC). Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2021, 488% of those drivers were drunk, with BACs of .08 or higher.

There are plenty of options to help impaired drivers get home safely, such as designating a sober driver or calling a taxi or rideshare. If available, use your community’s sober ride program. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact 911.

Remember: A few dollars spent on a ride home is a lot cheaper than a DUI, which can cost up to $10,000. Something else to consider: Don’t ever be too proud or embarrassed to ask for a ride. Allowing a sober driver to help you get home safely keeps you and others safe. What’s more embarrassing than asking for a sober ride home? Spending the night in jail. Having your car impounded. Losing your job or your security clearance. Take your pick.

No one should mix drinking and driving, and no one is immune to the effects of drinking. If you find yourself drunk and stranded with your vehicle, give your keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you home. Remind your friends to never get into a vehicle with a drunk driver.

If you have a friend who is about to drive after drinking, take away their keys and help them get home safely. Most importantly: Always have a plan before you head out for the evening. If you wait until after you’ve been drinking to figure out how to get from one place to the next, you will already be too impaired to make the right choice.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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