A reminder to drive carefully this holiday season

A Reminder From Pennsylvania Law Enforcement and the Pennsylvania DUI Association:

“The Mission is – Operation Safe Holiday”

Harrisburg (NOVEMBER 26, 2013) – The Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Association  reminds all drivers that law enforcement and the statewide municipal and state police DUI Task Forces will be working to remove impaired drivers from the roadways in Pennsylvania in an effort to save lives and prevent tragedies from occurring over the holidays.               Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season with Christmas around the corner, closely followed by New Years Eve.  This time of the year is for for family and friends to gather, parties and celebrations to take place.  Usually a time of happiness, Thanksgiving also represents the holiday with the highest rates of impaired driving crashes and fatalities taking place on our roads.                Combining statistics for alcohol related crashes and fatalities last year (2012), during the Pre-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day and Post-Thanksgiving period, 631 people were injured and 27 lost their lives in Pennsylvania.                The PA DUI Association supports law enforcement and educates drivers that driving “under the influence” is not just related to alcohol but also includes prescription drugs, designer drugs, illegal drugs and even some over the counter medications which can render a person incapable of safe driving.  Law enforcement offiicers trained as certified Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) will also be out in full force across the Commonwealth during the Thanksgiving period.    
            Hundreds drivers were arrested for driving under the influence during Operation Safe Holiday enforcement last year which begins with Thanksgiving and continues through the New Year’s holiday.    Related information:     
  • Although alcohol-related crashes accounted for approximately 10% of the total crashes in 2012, they resulted in 31% of all persons killed in crashes.
  • 118 certified DRE officers are in Pennsylvania. A DRE must be an active police officer and must pass a grueling training program. In 2004, Pennsylvania was the 39th state to join the National effort. A DRE is called when a driver appears to be impaired but alcohol is ruled out as the cause of impairment.  (Alcohol may be involved also. However, the level of impairment does not match the level of alcohol of the suspect in question.) Pennsylvania State Police coordinates the DRE program through the Department’s Bureau of Patrol. 
  • Never mix medications with alcohol.  Mixing certain medications or illegal drugs with alcohol can exaggerate the effects of alcohol and can cause greater impairment.
  • The average BAC for DUI arrests is .17%; the legal limit is .08%.
  Pennsylvania’s Zero Tolerance Law   Pennsylvania Zero Tolerance Law carries serious consequences for those under 21 convicted of driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood.  For example, those under 21 convicted of driving under the influence with a .02 BAC, or greater, face a 12-to-18-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months in jail, and fines from $500 to $5,000.    In addition, a vehicle does not have to be involved for individuals under 21 to lose their driving privileges.  Anyone under 21 convicted of consuming, possessing or transporting alcohol or lying about their age to obtain alcohol or carrying a fake ID, faces a fine of $500, plus court costs and a 90-day license suspension for the first offense.       The PA DUI Association conducts its annual Candlelight Vigil honoring victims of impaired driving crashes along with helping families and friends during the holidays remember their loved ones.  This year the ceremony will be taking place on December 12 at 5 pm in the Association’s DUI Victims Memorial Garden at 2413 No. Front St., Harrisburg.  The list is long, and many lost their lives over the holidays such as Thanksgiving making it all the more tragic for those left behind  

The Pennsylvania DUI Association wishes everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Remember to celebrate in a responsible way by arranging for a designated driver.