Police to initiate Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign

BERRIEN COUNTY— The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is reminding people to drive responsibly this holiday season.

To help spread the message about the dangers of impaired driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in partnership with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, are working to encourage safe and sober driving this holiday season. The national high-visibility enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from Dec. 13 through Dec. 31. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero-tolerance for drunk and drugged driving. Increased enforcement along with increased messages about the dangers of driving impaired, aim to drastically reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries on our roadways.

“We understand that during the holidays, people are busy checking items off their to-do list and attending parties,” said Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Robert Boyce. “We need people to remember – it’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober, not just during the holidays, but all year long. Stay safe and stay sober on the roads.”

Boyce said that statistics indicate that there is work to be done to put an end to impaired driving. Nationally, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2017, equating to one person killed every 48 minutes. In December 2017, 885 people lost their lives in traffic crashes in the U.S. involving a drunk driver. In Michigan, impaired driving represents 45.7 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2017. This is why the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office said they are working hard to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.

Drunk driving isn’t the only risk on the road. If drivers are impaired by any substance – alcohol or drugs – they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle, police said. Driving while Impaired is illegal, period. They stated that “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.”

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office reminds citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely.

“Impaired Driving of any form is not acceptable behavior,” Boyce said. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why during the December holiday, we will make zero exceptions for Impaired Driving. There are just no excuses.”

Impaired Driving can cost a person’s life, but it can also cost financially.

Here’s how:

• People caught driving impaired face jail time 

• On average, a DUI can cost $10,000 in attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, vehicle towing and repairs, and more.

• Plan a safe ride home ahead of time – this holiday season, and all year.

Police advised that it is never ok to drink and drive.  They asked people, even if they’ve had one alcoholic beverage, to designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.

Those who see and suspect a driver is impaired can contact their local law enforcement agency.

Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Additional “sobering statistics”:

• There were 937 fatal crashes in Michigan in 2017, or which 320 (34.2 percent) were alcohol-related. The percentage of alcohol-related fatalities were approximately 11.6 times higher than fatalities in all other crashes.

• In 2017 in Michigan, there were 174 drivers who tested positive for cannabinoid drug use involved in 169 motor vehicle crashes. Of those crashes, 131 were fatal, resulting in 144 fatalities. An additional 156 persons were injured.

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