This holiday season, Idaho law enforcement officers and safety officials are reminding people to designate a sober driver before each party or event involving alcohol. Increased patrols will begin mid-December and continue through New Year’s Day. The stepped-up patrols are part of “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose!” month (December 2004) as designated by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
As part of the effort to crack down on drunk drivers, federal grants will provide funding for overtime pay to officers who otherwise would not be on duty.
“The holiday season is supposed to be a time for family, friends and festive celebrations. Unfortunately, it is also a time when we see a jump in the number of alcohol-related highway fatalities,” said Kevin Bechen, Idaho Transportation Department Office of Traffic and Highway Safety (OTHS). “That’s why we are out early reminding everyone this holiday season, if you catch a buzz, catch a ride.”
In Idaho, more than 10,000 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2003. During the same year, 115 people died and nearly 1,000 were injured in impaired driving collisions.
Designating a sober driver before the party begins is
just one of several, simple steps you can take to help avoid a tragic
crash or an arrest for impaired driving, Bechen said.
• Don’t even think about getting behind the
wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been drinking;
Impaired driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes. Nationally, more than 17,000 people died in alcohol-related highway crashes during 2003. Every 30 minutes, nearly 50 times a day, someone in America dies in an alcohol-related crash. Hundreds of thousands more are injured each year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives.
In addition to law enforcement efforts, OTHS is launching a public education campaign to fight drunk driving. “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose!” radio and TV public service announcements will air throughout Idaho and the Northwest, and will appear on billboards.
“Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk,” Bechen said. “The consequences are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash can be significant.
“Being arrested for drunk driving is probably not the way you want to spend your holiday season.”
Listen to the "You Drink, You Drive, You Lose!" public service announcements (MP3 format):