COAL TOWNSHIP — During the Labor Day holiday, police in Northumberland County will partner with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from today through Sept. 2. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

According to NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2017. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2013 to 2017 — one person was killed in drunk driving crashes every 48 minutes in 2017. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors.

This is why police in Columbia, Montour and Northumberland counties are working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death. As you head out to Labor Day festivities, remember: “Drive sober or get pulled over.”

During the 2017 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. Sept. 1 to 5:59 a.m. Sept. 5), there were 376 crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-four percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). More than one-third (36%) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and more than one-fourth (26%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC).

Age is a particularly risky factor. Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2017, 42% of those drivers were drunk, with BACs of .08 or higher.

Drunk driving isn’t the only risk on the road. Drug-impaired driving is also an increasing problem on our nation’s roads. If drivers are impaired by any substance — alcohol or drugs — they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Driving while impaired is illegal, period.

The bottom line is this, if you feel different, you drive different. Drive high, get a DUI. It’s that simple.

“Labor Day should be a time for friends and family to come together to enjoy the last days of summer,” said Coal Township Cpl. Terry Ketchem, who serves as Northumberland County DUI enforcement coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program. “We need commitment from our community members that they’ll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal, and it takes lives. Help us put an end to this senseless behavior.”

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