Police departments in Barnegat and Long Beach Township are each receiving $4,400 in state grants to help crack down on drunken driving during the holiday season.
The two towns are among many across the state receiving the state aid.
"For about the next month, more than 400 law enforcement agencies will be patrolling the state’s roads looking for drunk and impaired drivers as part of the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday campaign, which runs from December 6 to January 2," says a prepared statement from the state.
Of those agencies, 144 will receive grants of $4,400 from the Division of Highway Traffic Safety that pay for saturation patrols and high-visibility sobriety checkpoints throughout New Jersey. During last year’s corresponding campaign, 95 agencies received the grant.
“During the holiday season, law enforcement officials always see a jump in the number of drunk and impaired drivers,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “Police will be targeting those drivers and once again this effort will send the message that if you chose to drink and drive, you will be arrested every time, no exception.”
In New Jersey, a person is guilty of drunk driving if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. Although the law refers to a 0.08 percent BAC, you can be convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor even when your BAC is below 0.08 percent.
Consuming even small amounts of alcohol dulls the senses, decreases reaction time, and hampers judgment, vision and alertness. If you consume any amount of alcohol and your driving is negatively impacted, you can be convicted of drunk driving.
Poedubicky said the penalties for a first DWI arrest include fines of up to $500 and a one-year driver’s license suspension. Violators can also expect auto insurance surcharges of several thousand dollars.
“No one ever thinks that their holiday celebration will end in jail, or worse, in a hospital,” Poedubicky said. “But for those who include alcohol in their celebrations and then get behind the wheel, this is often the case.”
In 2012, there were 158 fatalities directly attributed to impaired driving in the state, accounting for 27 percent of the 589 total crash fatalities.
In the winter of 2012, the holiday crackdowns resulted in 1,555 Driving While Intoxicated arrests. In addition, participating police agencies issued 5,138 speeding summonses and 3,113 seat belt summonses, and more than 1,600 fugitives were apprehended during the mobilization.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following advice to ensure a safe holiday travel season for those who choose to drink alcohol:
- Take mass transit, a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
- Spend the night rather than get behind the wheel.
- Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 to report a drunk or aggressive driver.
- Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
- If you’re intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive or escort you to your doorstep.
A list of police agencies receiving mobilization grants is available on the Division’s web site, at http://www.nj.gov/oag/hts/downloads/DSOGPO_12-2013-2014_Grant_Recipients.pdf.