Sarasota Police Department participating in ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign through Labor Day

10,142 people killed nationwide in crashes in 2019 involving impaired drivers, federal agency reports

Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

With Labor Day a little more than a week away, the Sarasota Police Department is taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign, which will run through Sept. 6, the department has reported.

“Many Americans look at the Labor Day holiday weekend as the unofficial end of summertime,” a news release points out. “No matter how you plan to celebrate the end of the season this year, the Sarasota Police Department wants to make sure you plan it safely,” the release adds. “Residents and visitors will see Sarasota Police officers working to take impaired drivers off the roads.”

“According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 that involved an alcohol-impaired driver,” the release points out. “On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2015 to 2019, and one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in 2019,” the release adds.

“This is why the Sarasota Police Department is working together with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death,” the release continues. “Always remember to: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

“We want our community members to understand that it’s our priority to keep people safe, so we’re asking everyone to plan if they know they’ll be out drinking,” said Officer Tim Bales of the Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit in the release. “We need commitment from our residents and visitors that they’ll keep the streets free of impaired drivers so everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk and impaired driving is illegal and it takes lives,” Bales added in the release. “Let’s make this a partnership between law enforcement and drivers: Help us protect the community and put an end to this senseless behavior.”

“The Sarasota Police Department and NHTSA want to remind residents and visitors of the many resources available to get them home safely,” the release notes. “Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior, especially when there are so many safe alternatives to get you home safely,” said Bales in the release.

The following are statistics from the NHTSA:

  • Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with blood alcohol levels at or above .08).
  • Among the 10,142 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2019, 68% (6,872) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher.
  • Although it is illegal to drive when impaired by alcohol, in 2019, one person was killed every 52 minutes in a drunk-driving crash on the nation’s roads.
  • “On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, and more,” the NHTSA says.

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

  • “Remember 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-sharing service to get home safely.
  • “Use a sober ride-sharing program including AAA Tow to Go, Uber, Lyft, Taxi, or friends and family.” Tow to Go will be available 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7.
  • “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.”