This Independence Day the Howell Police Department will have extra patrols on the street to help ensure people enjoy their holiday as safely as possible.
As part of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," program Sgt. Joseph Markulic said the department will be on the lookout for impaired motorists who are putting other drivers at risk. "The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays due to an increase in impaired-driving fatalities," he said.
"Too many people die behind the wheel each year due to those who choose to drive after drinking, so our officers will be out in full force this Fourth of July showing zero tolerance for impaired drivers," he added.
In 2010 Markulic said impaired drivers killed more than 10,000 people. He said that equaled "one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 51 minutes."
During the Fourth of July weekend alone that year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 392 people were killed in accidents. Markulic said 39 percent of them involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
Even when the holiday falls on a weekday like it does this year Markulic said the risks of an accident are even higher at night. "The amount of alcohol that one can consume during a day-long party or celebration can drastically impair the motor skills needed to drive safely," he said. "Add the fact that many others may be out driving impaired and that visual skills also decrease at night, and you have a recipe for disaster."
Sgt. Markulic said the risks are especially high for the younger drivers on the road particularly between 18-and-34-years-old. "Forty-six percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period were within this age group," he noted. "These are people who had their whole life ahead of them, but in one instant, one act of irresponsibility, they can lose it all. There is simply too much at stake to ever drive impaired."
For drivers that are caught driving impaired, Markulic said there are stiff consequences that can come from those decisions. They include risking harming or even killing other people, jail time, and insurance rate hikes in addition to the potential loss of the person's license among others.
Markulic said people should be aware of the possible consequences before getting on the road impaired. "Those who try to drink and drive this Fourth of July should be forewarned. We will be out in force looking for impaired drivers and we will catch you and arrest you," he said. "No warnings. No excuses. If you drive impaired you will be arrested."
In order to avoid any potential problems Markulic said the department has some suggestions to help people enjoy the holiday safely:
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
- If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the Howell Twp. Police or the local town you are traveling through.
- And remember, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
- For more information, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.