Charleston, WV -The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is conducting a high-visibility enforcement mobilization beginning today through New Year’s Day as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce impaired driving in West Virginia. The GHSP is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as well as and state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies across West Virginia for this high visibility enforcement effort. This enforcement effort aims to keep drivers who are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or certain impairing medications off our roadways so that all road users are safe this holiday season.
According to data from NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver in 2020. During the month of December between 2016 and 2020, more than 4,400 people were killed in drunk-driving-related crashes. Although it is illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2020 one person was killed every 45 minutes in drunk-driving crashes nationwide.
“West Virginia law enforcement officers have zero tolerance for impaired driving, especially during high visibility enforcement periods like this,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director. “The privilege to drive carries with it many responsibilities. You, and only you, are responsible for your actions. One of the responsibilities required of drivers in West Virginia is to not drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or impairing medications—whether prescribed or over-the-counter, such as allergy medicine.”
In 2021, there were 280 total roadway fatalities in West Virginia. Of those, 46 involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
“The most tragic thing about the alcohol-related fatalities is that they are preventable,” said Steven Jarvis, GHSP Impaired Driving Program Coordinator. “We want the motoring public to understand impaired driving isn’t just a ‘mistake.’ Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is a selfish, deadly, and illegal choice—especially with the available options for ride share services and taxis.”
The decision to drive sober should not be a difficult choice. In West Virginia, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drivers need to ask themselves if the risks are worth the gamble. Not only do drunk drivers put their own lives at risk, they endanger everyone they encounter on the road. The costs can be financial, too. If you’re caught drinking and driving, you could face jail time, lose your driver’s license and your vehicle, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, higher insurance rates, and lost wages.
The GHSP reminds West Virginia drivers to celebrate with a plan this holiday season. There are many resources available to get drivers home safely. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. The GHSP recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service such as Uber or Lyft to get home safely.
- If available, use your community’s sober ride program, such as IntoxiTaxi or similar programs.
- If you were not planning on drinking but end up having one, call a trusted sober friend or family member and ask them to drive you home.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement or dial *77 for the West Virginia State Police.
- Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take their keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
“We want everyone to be as safe as possible on West Virginia roads this holiday season and year-round. We hope drivers will be safe and make responsible choices. Impaired driving is one hundred-percent preventable. Don’t make a selfish choice that puts yourself and others at risk,” concluded Jarvis.
Additional information about the 2022 Holiday Season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign can be found at nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-