Nationwide crackdown on drunk drivers set through New Year’s Eve

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An intensive nationwide crackdown on drunk drivers by law enforcement agencies will continue through New Year’s Eve. The “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” public awareness campaign is being supported by $7 million in national television and radio advertising.

New federal traffic safety data shows that the daily death toll from drunk driving crashes during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods is significantly more than for the rest of the year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Tuesday, Dec. 18.

“If you’ve had too much holiday spirit, you’d better find a safe and sober ride,” Peters said. “Driving while drunk is not worth the risk.” Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Data released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that from 2001 to 2005, an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day on America’s roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. That number increases to 45 per day during the Christmas period and jumps to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday, Peters said.

Thirty-eight percent of all traffic fatalities during the Christmas period occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver or motorcycle rider and 41 percent during the New Year’s period, Peters said. This compares with 31 percent for the year as a whole.

“The consequences of driving drunk are serious and real,” said NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason. “Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving drunk can be overwhelming.”