|Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over|
|CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) reminds motorists to drive sober throughout the July 4 holiday weekend. This Independence Day, safeguard your freedom, and the lives of others, by committing to sober driving. The GHSP is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement agencies statewide for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement impaired driving campaign. The primary goal of the increased law enforcement presence will be to help prevent tragedies previously seen around the July 4th holiday.|
According to NHTSA, 13,384 motor vehicle crash-related deaths nationwide in 2021 involved alcohol-impaired drivers. This represented 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States for the year, and a 14.2 percent increase from 2020. In 2021, 65 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities occurred in West Virginia, accounting for over 23 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state.
That same year, 538 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4 holiday alone (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6). Thirty-nine percent (212) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. With many Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars are on the roads at night. Over the 2021 Fourth of July holiday period, of the 212 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, 82% of those fatalities occurred in nighttime crashes (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.).
“During the July Fourth holiday, law enforcement officers across the state will pull over and arrest drunk drivers, showing zero tolerance for impaired driving,” said Steven Jarvis, GHSP Impaired Driving Program Coordinator.
“Everyone knows that it is illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, people push the envelope, believing that they’ll be okay enough to drive. That’s just not true. Whether you’ve had ‘just one drink’ or have consumed an impairing substance such as drugs or certain prescription or over-the-counter medications, your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle could be impaired. If you feel different, you drive different,” Jarvis said.
There are plenty of options to help impaired drivers get home safely, such as designating a sober driver or calling a taxi or rideshare. Where available, use your community’s sober ride program.
Remember: a few dollars spent on a ride is a lot cheaper than a DUI, which can cost up to $10,000. Something else to consider: Don’t ever be too proud or embarrassed to ask for a ride. Allowing a sober driver to help you get home safely keeps you and others safe. What’s more embarrassing than drunkenly asking for a sober ride home? Spending the night in jail. Having your car impounded. Losing your job or your security clearance. Take your pick.
“Drunk driving and drug-impaired driving are selfish and arrogant choices,” continued Jarvis. “It puts not only the impaired driver, their passengers, as well as other drivers and passengers who are traveling our roads at higher risk of being in a crash, possibly being injured or killed.”
No one should mix drinking or drugs and driving, and no one is immune to the effects of impaired driving. If you find yourself impaired and stranded with your vehicle, give your keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you home. Remind your friends to never get in the vehicle with a drunk or drug-impaired driver. If you have a friend who is about to drive drunk, take away their keys and help them get home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone—they’ll thank you later. Always have a plan before you head out for the evening. If you wait until after you’ve been drinking to figure out how to get from one place to the next, you will already be too impaired to make the right choices.
“It’s not worth the risk,” Jarvis concluded.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, do not hesitate to contact local law enforcement or the West Virginia State Police.
This 4th of July and every day, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. For more information on impaired driving, visit nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov or call 304-926-2509.