December 15, 2020 | Washington, DC
At a virtual event today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration kicked off its annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement campaign, reminding Americans not to drive impaired. Drivers can expect to see increased law enforcement on the road from December 18 through New Year’s Day.
“There is no excuse for impaired driving and millions of reasons not to — some of whom may be passengers in your own car,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
In 2019, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities decreased by 5.3% to the lowest percentage since 1982, when NHTSA started reporting alcohol data. However, that progress is in jeopardy due to changing driving patterns and behaviors during the national public health emergency and stay-at-home orders. The drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to a NHTSA report issued in October.
“Impaired driving is 100% preventable, and law enforcement officers will be stopping impaired drivers to protect everyone on the road,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens.
This winter’s impaired driving high-visibility enforcement will be supported by a $9.5 million paid national advertising campaign that will begin December 16 and run through New Year’s Day. The new public service announcements are available in English and Spanish.
During the Christmas to New Year’s Day holiday period in 2019, 210 lives were lost in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. Driving impaired by any substance—alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal—is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Even in states where marijuana laws have changed, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of the drug. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also impair one’s ability to drive safely, and driving under their influence is illegal.