‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign underway in city of Sarasota

Police officers working to prevent alcoholic beverage-related crashes through Labor Day holiday

The Sarasota Police Department is working alongside representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to try to reduce the number of impaired-driving incidents, the department has announced.

The department is taking part in Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over through the upcoming Labor Day weekend, a news release says.

The NHTSA reports that, in 2020, 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver, the release points out. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020 in such incidents, the NHTSA data show, and one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 45 minutes in 2020, on average, the release adds.

“This is why the Sarasota Police Department is partnering with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death,” the release says. “As you head out to festivities during the end of summer and Labor Day weekend, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

“We want our community members to understand it’s our first priority to keep people safe, so we’re asking everyone to plan ahead if they know they’ll be out drinking,” said Sgt. Anthony Frangioni of the Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit in the release. “We need commitment from our community that they’ll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe summer and Labor Day holiday,” he added. “Help us protect the community and put an end to this senseless behavior.”

During the 2020 Labor Day holiday period, 530 crash fatalities were reported nationwide, the release notes. Of those incidents, the release points out, 46% involved drivers who had consumed alcoholic beverages. More than one-third (38%) of the fatalities involved drunk drivers (.08+ blood alcohol content — BAC), and 25% involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+), the release says.

“Age is a particularly risky factor: Among drivers between the ages of 21 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2020,” 44% were drunk, with BACs of .08 or higher, the release notes.

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior, especially when there are so many safe alternatives to get you home safely,” said Frangioni in the release.

The Sarasota Police Department recommends the following safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

  • “Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.”
  • Use a sober ride-sharing program, such as AAA Tow to Go, Uber, Lyft, a taxi, or friends and family members. In Florida, Tow to Go will be available from 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, the release says.
  • “If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact 911 or your local law enforcement agency.
  • “Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and plan to get your friend home safely.”