Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera has reported that every year Americans head out on the nation’s highways to celebrate the Fourth of July at picnics, parties, parades and more. Unfortunately, for many, the celebrating includes drinking alcohol, which too often leads to drunk driving on one of the most heavily traveled holidays of the year.
There were 397 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2014 over the Fourth of July holiday (6 p.m. July 3 to 5:59 a.m. July 7). Of those fatalities, 164 people (41 percent) were killed in crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher, according to Barrera.
In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes nationwide – almost a third of all crash fatalities.
And from 2010-14, 39 percent of all traffic fatalities over the Fourth of July period occurred in alcohol impaired driving crashes.
In every state and the District of Columbia, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. Yet, among the 164 people killed in drunk-driving crashes over the 2014 July Fourth period, 113 people died in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .15 or higher.
This Fourth of July, deputies of the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, along with other law enforcement agencies, will be out in full force, cracking down on drunk drivers by aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger.
“The ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign means zero tolerance for drunk driving – no excuses!” said Barrera.
NHTSA data shows that young drivers (18 to 34 years) are especially at risk of driving drunk. In fact, 58 percent of the drivers 18 to 34 who were killed over the July Fourth period in 2014 were driving drunk (BAC of .08 or higher). Motorcycle operators are also overrepresented as the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes. In 2014, more than a quarter (29 percent) of motorcycle operators in fatal crashes had BACs of .08 or higher.
Drunk drivers are also more common at night. Over the July Fourth holiday in 2014, 42 percent of the drivers in nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired, compared to 12 percent of drivers in fatal crashes during the day.
If you’re caught driving drunk this Independence Day, you will be arrested. The consequences of drunk driving are that serious. Not only could you put your life and the lives of others at risk, but a DUI arrest means a loss of freedom and money, including going to jail, losing your license, and paying steep financial expenses. The average DUI cost? About $10,000.
“This Fourth of July, don’t risk losing your life or your independence by drinking and driving. Help make everyone’s holiday in Highland County safer by driving sober, said Barrera.
Barrera recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
• Designate a sober driver or use public transportation to get home safely.
• Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app at www.nhtsa.gov/link/saferride/.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the sheriff’s office.
• If you know people who are about to drive or ride after drinking, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, contact Barrera at 937.393.1421 and/or visit www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov.
Submitted by Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera.