Around the holidays, there's always a big crack down on drunk drivers around the country. Unfortunately, many holiday celebrations involve both alcohol and travel, so impaired driving becomes more of a problem than usual.
This past Labor Day weekend, Oklahoma law enforcement agencies joined the national campaign, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." During this campaign, highway patrol officers aggressively watched for impaired drivers and arrested anyone who was caught while driving prepared. Although police always look for and report impaired drivers in Oklahoma, an added emphasis was added to the issue during the holiday weekend.
Oklahoma Drunk Driving Statistics
According to the highway patrol, there is at least one alcohol impaired driving-related death every 51 minutes in America. National statistics report that an average of 4,500 alcohol-related auto crashes and 220 alcohol-related traffic deaths happen each year across the country.
During Labor Day weekend in 2013, 12 people died in automobile crashes in Oklahoma and three of those fatalities were alcohol-related. On top of that statistic, an additional 43 people were injured in Oklahoma due to alcohol-related crashes. Oklahoma is a zero tolerance state for impaired minors under 21 and 0.08 percent is the legal limit for adults over 21.
Penalties for Drunk Driving
- Loss or suspension of license
- Hefty fines
- Substance-abuse treatment courses
- Jail and prison
- Community service
- Criminal record
- Social stigma and career and family consequences
How to Stay Safe
Pretty much everyone understands why drinking and driving is a bad idea, but sometimes pride, bad judgment, and selfishness get in the way of common sense. But how many more people really have to die to get the point across? Here are some tips to stay during holiday celebrations:
- Take a cab or take public transportation home
- Sleep over at a friend's place after the party
- Designate one person to stay sober and be the driver
- Celebrate at home or in walking distance of your home
- Consider celebrating without alcohol
The main thing that Oklahoma police officers can do to help is to be on the road, be seen by drivers, and get the word out about the consequences of impaired driving. Some of the things police look for include weaving within a lane, turning without signaling, straddling the center line, or running a red light.
"Our biggest point that we’re trying to push here is that we don’t want anybody to make the decision to drink and drive. That in all fifty states it’s against the law to drink and drive if they are planning on drinking make sure they have a designated driver, a non-drinker to take them where they need to go," said Trooper Antonio Porter, Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
By keeping an eye out for impaired drivers on the road, hopefully law enforcement officials can prevent tragic accidents before they happen. Although the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign only lasted from mid-August to Labor Day, staying sober behind the wheel must be a top priority all year long.