Ahead of July 4th celebrations, GHSP reminds drivers: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — This Independence Day holiday weekend, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) reminds drivers about the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol during the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high visibility enforcement mobilization.

The primary goal of the law enforcement presence will be to prevent the tragedies previously seen around the July 4th holiday.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide that involved an alcohol-impaired driver in 2020. That same year, 493 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6). Forty-one percent (201) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes.

It’s important to understand that impairment can occur even after just one or two alcoholic drinks.

“It’s as simple as this: don’t drive when you’ve been drinking or taking drugs or certain prescription drugs. It’s not just dangerous, it’s illegal,” said Gov. Jim Justice.

“A DUI costs thousands of dollars in citations, court fees, increased insurance premiums, and other costs. But more than that, it puts you, your passengers, and everyone on the road at risk for preventable crashes, injuries, and fatalities. For the cost of a sober ride, that can be avoided and keep all of us safe. There’s never an excuse to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you’ve been drinking or taking impairing substances such as drugs or medications that affect a user’s ability to drive safely,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director.

From 2016 to 2020, there were 1,390 drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the 4th of July holiday period. Thirty-nine percent (542) of the drivers killed were alcohol-impaired (with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher), and more than half (51%) were between the ages of 21-34. With many Fourth of July festivities wrapping up late in the evening, nighttime hours are especially dangerous: Over the 2020 July 4th holiday period, of the 201 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, 85% of the crashes were at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.).

“We want everyone to enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday. That means we need to be straightforward about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving,” continued Tipton. “Many people think that having just one or two drinks won’t have an impairing affect on them. Or they may think they won’t get caught. In both instances, they would be wrong. Law enforcement will be out this weekend looking for impaired drivers.”

Celebrate with a Plan

This Fourth of July, the GHSP, NHTSA, and local, county, and state law enforcement agencies are working together to urge drivers to designate a sober driver before drinking any alcohol. If you plan on drinking or using impairing substances, plan on not driving.

Remember that it’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, the GHSP recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

  • Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely. It could save you $10,000 on a DUI.
  • Where available, use your community’s sober ride program.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
  • Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

“Driving while impaired is a bad decision that can have deadly consequences. Never drive if you have consumed any impairing substance. If you’re a designated driver, stick to the plan: don’t use alcohol or drugs, whether legally or illegally obtained. For all drivers, your best defense against impaired drivers on the road is your seat belt. Wear it on every trip, and make sure your passengers do, too,” concluded Tipton.

This Fourth of July, commit to only driving 100-percent sober. Don’t lose your independence on Independence Day, and don’t be a deadly risk to yourself and other innocent people. Remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

Learn more about impaired driving at nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving. For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit highwaysafety.wv.gov, http://www.dmv.wv.gov/ghspor or call 304-926-2509.



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