This 4th of July holiday weekend, Berks County law enforcement agencies are participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign, conducting roving DUI patrols and DUI checkpoints.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 that involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
With Fourth of July festivities wrapping up late in the evening, more cars will be on the roads at night. In 2019, 515 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 3 to 5:59 a.m. July 8). Thirty-eight percent (198) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.
“We want our community to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, but we also want responsible drivers on the roads,” said Sergeant David Bentz Exeter Township Police & Berks County Coordinator North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program.
“We repeat this message constantly, but it is still a critical issue: Drunk driving is deadly and illegal. Remember: if you are caught, drinking and driving you will be arrested. Driving under the influence of any substance will land you a DUI.”
From 2015 to 2019, there were 1,339 drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the 4th of July holiday period. Thirty-eight percent (512) of the drivers killed were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08+).
During the 2019 July 4th holiday period, 69% of those who died in alcohol-impaired crashes were in a crash involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .15. Nighttime hours are especially dangerous: Over the 2019 July 4th holiday period, of the 198 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, almost 4 out of 5 (79%) of them occurred in nighttime crashes (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.).
“Sadly, many people think driving impaired is no big deal,” said Sergeant Bentz. “We’ve seen it all, and we can spot a drunk driver on the road. A DUI will follow you throughout your life, so this is a gamble that is just not worth taking. Under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you’ve been drinking. Doing so endangers you, your passengers, and everyone on the road with you.”
Celebrating with a plan. This Fourth of July, Berks County Police and NHTSA are working together to urge drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the day. If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving.
Berks County Police recommend these safe alternatives to drinking and driving: Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely. If available, use your community’s sober ride program, UBER or LYFT. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact 911. Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.