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'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' launches nationwide

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A new campaign hopes to curb drunk driving in the D.C. area and throughout the nation in the final weeks of summer.

Starting this week, thousands of police departments across the country will kick off "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over".

In Montgomery County, officers will target major roadways.

"Wisconsin Avenue, Georgia Avenue, Connecticut Avenue," Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said.

The campaign will run through Labor Day, a high-traffic time for potentially deadly accidents.

David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, explained, "Unfortunately, also during this period, we see some of the highest incidents of drunk-driving and drunk-driving crashes."

The heightened police presence during the annual summer campaign has helped to curb fatal crashes, but drunk driving is still an ongoing problem.

Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) announced the results of its recent survey. It found 70 percent of drunk driving deaths in 2010 involved those with blood alcohol levels nearly twice the .08 legal limit.

The NHSTA also found 20 to 24-year-olds are most likely to be involved in drunk driving deaths.

In the D.C. area, stiffer penalties now go along with the crime. For first-time convictions in D.C., drivers will face a $1,000 fine and six months behind bars.

Manager added, "Most states now will suspend your license for some period of time."

To stop repeat offenders, some states are now requiring ignition interlock systems. The device prevents a car from starting if the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is above .02. In Virginia, anyone convicted of a DUI, even first-time offenders, must install the device into their car. In Maryland, ignition interlock systems are required for offenders who are caught with a BAC above .15.

The message to stay safe and sober on the roads will also be hitting the airwaves in the coming weeks.

Police say they'll continue to enforce the initiative even after the campaign ends.

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