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Speeches and Presentations

Drive Sober Winter Holiday Campaign

Ann Carlson, NHTSA Acting Administrator

Tuesday, December 12, 2023 |

Washington, D.C.


Deputy Secretary Trottenberg, thank you so much. We appreciate your strong support for NHTSA’s safety mission and your continued leadership. Thank you for being here today.

I also want to recognize the continued work of safety advocates, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who speak for the victims of impaired driving. I am of the generation that learned to drive before MADD existed, so I know firsthand how extraordinary their work has been in saving lives every single day and in changing the way the American public views drunk driving.

And their commitment to change and continued advocacy for new solutions will save even more. I especially want to thank members of MADD who have been the victims of drunk driving, either through the loss of family or who have been injured themselves. You take your pain and work to save others from it, and I can’t thank you enough for your work.

Today’s announcement comes as the White House has proclaimed December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

Nearly everyone has a story of someone they know who has been lost because of a drunk driver. I do. When I was young, my best friend’s brother was killed by an impaired driver. He’d driven to the mountains to get snow to bring back to our high school, and he never made it home. I vividly remember the moment I learned of his death and the way it forever changed his family. I should also say that this happened before MADD began its advocacy, and I believe that he would have lived had MADD existed at the time of his death.  

We want to keep other families from feeling these same losses, and impaired driving is 100% preventable. More than 1,000 people died due to impaired drivers in December 2021, the most in nearly 15 years. That’s why we run our annual drive sober campaign at this time of year – as people are out celebrating, we want them to celebrate safely and responsibly.

NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement campaign kicks off December 13 and runs through New Year’s Day. Law enforcement officers will be identifying impaired drivers and getting them off our roads to prevent crashes and save lives.

And we join together with our vital partners in the law enforcement community in our shared commitment to conduct enforcement activities equitably and fairly. After all, the goal is to save lives.

Driving impaired by any substance is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This includes substances like over-the-counter and prescription medications. Marijuana also impairs your ability to drive safely and can result in an impaired driving charge. Our If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DUI campaign educates everyone that driving high is dangerous and illegal.

Preventing impaired driving is simple. Plan ahead this holiday season and never get behind the wheel after using any impairing substance. Instead, designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or call a ride-hailing service or taxi. Many communities run sober ride programs throughout the holiday, offering free rides home. And anyone who sees an impaired driver on the road should call 911.

We also want to remind everyone on the roads to be on the lookout for emergency vehicles. When you see law enforcement and first responders along the side of the road, move over and give them some space to work.

We’re supporting this lifesaving Drive Sober campaign with a $14 million national media buy, which includes TV, radio, and digital ads in English and Spanish. We will also be debuting new English and Spanish TV ads focusing on alcohol-impaired driving.

So please, drive sober – for your sake and for everyone’s sake. Let’s all get home safely this holiday season.

With that, we’ll conclude today’s news conference. Thanks again to all our speakers for your time and thank you to the media and our online audience for joining us today.