Skip to main content
Deputy Administrator: James C. Owens

Op-Ed: A Reminder for Motorists to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

December 22, 2019

As submitted to Kenosha News.

Lives lost. Families torn apart. One choice turned into tragedy.

The anguish of losing a loved one to a drunk driver hits home for hundreds of Wisconsin families this holiday season. In 2018, more than 175 people in Wisconsin died in car crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

Nationwide, more than 10,000 people lost their lives due to alcohol-impaired driving. Think about that—thousands of families will have an empty seat at their dinner table this holiday season, all due to a tragedy that is completely preventable.

Millions of Americans will hit the road to spend the holidays with family and friends. With your help, we can prevent choices that threaten to turn what should be one of the happiest times of the year into a nightmare for too many families due to impaired driving.

Your safety is important to us at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). To protect you and your family, law enforcement officers across the country are partnering with DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) by spending the holidays searching for impaired drivers.

Throughout the holiday season, motorists will be reminded: drive sober or get pulled over With support of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, NHTSA is investing $8 million on television, radio, and social media advertisements to reinforce this life saving message.

Drinking and driving is not the only concern this holiday season. Many drugs can impair a person’s ability to drive safely, including some over-the-counter and prescription medications.

We also know that marijuana use can impair a driver’s ability to react and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Methamphetamines and opioids can also cause impairment. Remember, if you feel different, you drive different.

Driving under the influence slows your reaction time, reduces concentration, hinders judgement, and can impact your motor skills and vision. Impaired driving has serious consequences: a criminal record, financial penalties, and loss of a job. By making the right choice — and encouraging others to do the same — lives can be saved.

If you have been drinking or using impairing drugs, please do not get behind the wheel. Arrange for a sober driver, call a cab, or use a ride-hailing service. Do not gamble with your life — or the lives of others on the road.

Last December, more than 800 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver. All of these deaths were preventable. Join us as we make Wisconsin roads safer this holiday season. Together, we can end impaired driving and save precious lives.

James C. Owens