This 4th of July holiday, Berks County law enforcement agencies are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement impaired driving campaign.
The primary goal of the increased law enforcement presence will be to help prevent tragedies previously seen around the July 4th holiday.
According to NHTSA, 13,384 motor vehicle crash-related deaths in 2021 involved alcohol-impaired drivers. This represented 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States for the year, and a 14.2 percent increase from 2020. That same year, 538 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4th holiday alone (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6).
Thirty-nine percent (212) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. With many Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars are on the roads at night. Over the 2021 July 4th holiday period, of the 212 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, 82% of those fatalities occurred in nighttime crashes (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.).
“During the July 4th holiday, we’ll pull over and arrest drunk drivers,” said Sergeant David Bentz Exeter Twp. Police Department & Berks County Coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program “We’re showing zero tolerance. Everyone knows the law: It is illegal to drink and drive. Still, people test the waters and drive after a few too many. We know how to spot a drunk driver on the road. Drunk driving is selfish and arrogant, and it endangers the drivers, their passengers, and other people on the road.”
Bentz says 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, do not hesitate to contact 911.
Remember: a few dollars spent on a ride 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 drunkenly 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 drunk driving. 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 in the vehicle with a drunk driver. If you have a friend who is about to drive drunk, take away their keys and help them get home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later. 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 choices.
This 4th of July and every day, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. For more information on impaired driving, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.