One person died every 52 minutes as the result of drunk driving crashes on U.S. streets and highways during 2019. Even during the joyous Christmas season, the deadly statistics continue to mount.
This holiday season, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with Arkansas law enforcement agencies to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.
Arkansas law enforcement officers want all drivers to remember this lifesaving message, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over".
Beginning this week and continuing through January 1, 2022, law enforcement officers across Arkansas will step-up their mission to protect motorists by taking drunk drivers off the roads. Drivers who are impaired in violation of state law will be stopped and taken to jail.
Arkansas State Troopers, sheriff's deputies and city police officers will be working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, but also a matter of life and death. Before getting into their vehicles, drivers who have been drinking should remember to ask themselves whether it's worth the risk of arrest or worse, causing injury or death to someone traveling home for the holidays.
"Just one death on the highway leads to unimaginable consequences that leave families devastated for the remainder of their lives," said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "A death caused by a drunk driver is preventable and that's why we try every day to remove impaired drivers from the roads before it's too late."
In every state it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 [*Utah threshold is .05 g/dL]. A driver pulled-over and arrested for DWI faces the possibility of being jailed, revocation of their driver's license, insurmountable attorney's fees, higher insurance rates, lost wages and additional criminal charges resulting from a crash that injures or leads to the death of another person.
"We need the support of all Arkansans and ask they be vigilant in reporting suspected impaired driving they see on the highways," said Colonel Bryant. "The holidays are a special time of year for most people and we ask everyone to drive sober and responsibly."
If holiday celebrations call for traveling whether across town or cross state, the Arkansas State Police recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
• It's never okay to drink and drive. Even if you've had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely. Plan a safe way home before you leave.
• If you've been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
• If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
• Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.
For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. Learn about Arkansas' ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities at www.TZDArkansas.org