Speeches and Presentations

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Press Conference Remarks | James Owens, NHTSA Deputy Administrator

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 |

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Hi, I’m James Owens, the Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Thank you for joining us today to discuss the cause of nearly one-third of all fatalities on our roads every year – impaired driving.

Nationally, impaired driving crashes killed 10,511 people in 2018.  All of these crashes were completely preventable, and there is no reason and no excuse for driving impaired.  

Labor Day weekend is typically one of the deadliest times of the year on our roads, in part because people still choose to drive impaired.  Over the past five years, an average of 433 people have been killed in crashes over the Labor Day weekend. 

Ongoing research suggests drug and alcohol use has significantly increased during the past few months.  For example, opioid-related EMS calls have been higher during the ongoing health crisis, and our state partners are reporting similar data.

That’s why we’re stepping up our efforts to keep impaired drivers off our roads.  

Our message is simple: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

From August 21 to September 7, thousands of participating state and local law enforcement agencies will be monitoring roadways to protect the public from impaired drivers.

This year’s high-visibility enforcement will be supported by a $10 million national paid media campaign.  Advertisements will run on television, radio, digital, and social media starting today and running through Labor Day.

Our new national advertisement reminds us all that impaired driving isn’t just limited to alcohol – marijuana also impairs.  Our ad includes the If You Feel Different, You Drive Different: Drive High, Get A DUI message.  We are reminding drivers that using marijuana, like many other drugs, can impair their ability to drive safely and can result in being charged with driving under the influence.  

The ad also reinforces the message that impaired driving has additional consequences:  a criminal record, fines, and even jail time.  

We want everyone to know: If you drive impaired, you will get caught.  

I would like to thank the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, for her steadfast support for our impaired-driving prevention efforts, including Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.  We are also pleased to have the support of the nation’s law enforcement community, as well as safety partners like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. 

So, this Labor Day holiday, and all year long: If you have been drinking or using any other impairing substance, do not get behind the wheel.  Arrange for a sober driver, call a cab, or use a ride-hailing service.  

Don’t gamble with your life—or the lives of others on the road.