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NHTSA Advises Motorists to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Nationwide enforcement of drug- and alcohol-impaired driving laws through Labor Day

| Washington, DC

Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined with safety partners in announcing the 2019 national impaired-driving high-visibility enforcement campaign. NHTSA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) unveiled their alcohol- and drug-impaired driving messages Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and If You Feel Different, You Drive Different – Drive High, Get a DUI.

Beginning Friday, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers across the United States will be on heightened alert for impaired drivers. The $13 million media campaign (Aug. 14-Sept. 2) uses a mix of television, radio, digital, cinema, and social media outlets to deliver the messages. The campaign will run through the Labor Day holiday weekend, one of the deadliest times on U.S. roads. 

NHTSA and others have focused on educating marijuana users on the risks of driving high due to recent legalization efforts. In fact, focus groups with users of marijuana show they think they’re safer drivers after using marijuana than after consuming alcohol. Many don’t think they can be charged with a DUI for driving while impaired by marijuana.

“Almost everyone knows that driving drunk is dangerous, puts lives at risk, and can get you a DUI – but there isn’t the same awareness for drug-impaired driving,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “At NHTSA, we are working hard to raise awareness among the driving public of the fact that driving impaired by drugs is illegal in every state. We want to encourage people to think twice before driving and to follow through by designating a sober driver, calling a cab, or using a ridesharing service.”

Last summer, the agency launched If You Feel Different, You Drive Different and its high-visibility enforcement component, Drive High, Get a DUI – thus bringing drug-impaired driving to the forefront with the decades-long battle against alcohol-impaired driving.

Although drunk-driving-related deaths have fallen over the past 3 decades, they still claim more than 10,000 lives per year. In 2017, one in five children (14 and younger) who died in a crash, died in a crash involving alcohol. For more information on the 2017 alcohol-impaired driving data, see NHTSA’s fact sheet. 

Speaking at today’s press conference, MADD National President Helen Witty said her 16-year-old daughter Helen Marie was killed by a drunk and drug-impaired teen driver while rollerblading on a designated bike path near the family’s Miami home.

“Drunk driving is still the number one killer on our roads,” said Witty. “This is unacceptable. We know how to reduce drug-impaired driving and end this preventable crime.”

Driving either drunk or high is a DUI; impairment is impairment,” said King. “During this nationwide enforcement, and year-round, if you drive high, you can get a DUI; drive sober or get pulled over.”

NHTSA encourages everyone to plan ahead, especially when celebrating the Labor Day weekend: never drive high or drunk. Instead, use public transportation, or call a ridesharing service or cab to make sure you get home safely. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

For video and high-resolution campaign images, please visit NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Marketing site. 

NHTSA Public Affairs
NHTSA 06-19