CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY)- This holiday season, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to share the message about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving.
>From Dec. 16, 2020 through Jan. 1, 2021, law enforcement agencies in West Virginia will participate in the high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce impaired driving on our nation’s roadways.
“This year, it’s crucial for us to minimize our gatherings as much as possible in order to slow the spread of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But, even as you celebrate the holidays in smaller company this year, it’s still just as important to act responsibly if you’re going to get behind the wheel and out on the roads,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “I support this initiative because, at the end of the day, we always want all West Virginians to be safe.”
The numbers are shocking: in 2018, one person died every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in America. These deaths account for approximately one-third of all traffic deaths each year, with 10,511 deaths occurring nationwide in 2018 alone.
According to NHTSA, between 2008 and 2017, of those drivers killed in crashes and tested for marijuana, marijuana presence had nearly doubled. Even though impaired driving is illegal nationally, the numbers remain similar year after year.
“During the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods in 2018 alone, we saw more drunk-driving-related fatalities – 285 nationwide – than during any other holiday period that year,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director.
This is why the GHSP is working with local law enforcement and NHTSA to remind drivers that impaired driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.
“These fatalities are preventable. Drivers need to realize that driving impaired by any substance – drugs or alcohol – is deadly, illegal, and selfish behavior. Just one death on West Virginia roads is one death too many,” Tipton continued.
The decision to drive sober should never be a tough one. Impaired driving of all types is illegal and can be deadly – to the driver, to his or her passengers, and to other road users. Law enforcement officers will be out on high alert, working hard to protect the community from impaired drivers during the holiday period, and showing zero tolerance for anyone driving high or drunk.
Nationally, it is illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, except in Utah, where the limit is .05. In addition, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs – no exceptions. Alcohol and drug consumption lowers inhibitions, causing you to make bad decisions you would not otherwise make. Do not trust yourself to drive safely when you are drinking alcohol or on drugs.
“While the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national high-visibility enforcement campaign ends on January 1st, our commitment to enforcing impaired driving laws never ends,” concluded Tipton.
Drunk or drugged driving is never okay. If you are planning to indulge in an impairing substance, plan ahead for a sober ride home. Even one drink is one too many if you are driving. Remember these tips to remain safe night on the roads, day or night:
- Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service such as Uber or Lyft or to get home safely.
- If available, use your community’s sober ride program such as Intoxi-Taxi or a similar service.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
- Do you have a friend who is about to drive after drinking or using drugs? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
Ultimately, impaired driving is 100 percent preventable. Don’t make the choice to put yourself and others at risk.
For more information about the 2020 Holiday Season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/drive-sober. For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.