PARKERSBURG - From mid-August through Labor Day, police will be out in force as part of the annual nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" crackdown on drunken driving.
The crackdown, which will include high-visibility enforcement throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, will run through Sept. 2.
"Every year, about one third of all motor vehicle traffic deaths involve one or more drunk drivers or motorcycle operators," said Toni Tiano with the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Highway Safety Program. "In 2011 9,878 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers. That works out to approximately one drunk driving fatality every 53 minutes."
It is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to drive drunk, which means having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. Tiano noted holidays such as the Labor Day weekend are particularly dangerous.
During the Labor Day weekend in 2011 nationwide, 138 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or higher. Of those fatalities, 83 percent occurred during early evening and overnight, from 6 p.m.-5:59 a.m.
Drunken driving takes a particularly heavy toll among young drivers. Among 18- to 34-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, 42 percent were alcohol-impaired.
"Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign reduces drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. By joining this nationwide effort, we will make the regional roadways safer for everyone throughout the Labor Day period," Tiano said.
"Not only does drinking impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely, it also impairs your judgment and good sense about whether you can, or should drive. If you have any doubt about your sobriety, do not get behind the wheel. If you do choose to drive impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses," Tiano said.
"Driving drunk is simply not worth the risk. So don't take the chance. Remember, we will be out in force and we will be watching, so 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,'" Tiano said.