STATE POLICE TO PATROL ‘ROUND
THE CLOCK' THROUGHOUT JULY 4th HOLIDAY
Attorney General, State Police & Highway Traffic
Safety Officials Focus On Designated Driver Program & Seat Belt
Enforcement To Reduce Accidents
New Brunswick - Attorney
General John J. Farmer, Jr., Colonel Carson J. Dunbar, Jr., Superintendent
of the New Jersey State Police, Peter J. O'Hagan, Director of the
Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Frank X. McDermott, Chairman
of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, today called on all New Jersey
drivers to put highway safety "first on the list" during the upcoming
Fourth of July holiday and throughout the entire summer driving
In announcing the summer
traffic enforcement initiatives and highway safety efforts, Attorney
General Farmer expressed his support of the designated driver program
and introduced Mr. William Elliott, the founder of the "Be A Hero
Campaign For Designated Drivers" and a proponent of stronger drunk
driving legislation which requires law enforcement officers to impound
the vehicle of anyone arrested for driving while intoxicated for
a period of up to 12 hours. The law, known as "John's Law," takes
effect on Aug. 1.
"Too many people are still
dying on our highways because of drinking and driving," said Attorney
General Farmer. "If you choose to make drinking a part of your July
4th holiday, leave the driving of a vehicle - or the operation of
any watercraft - to someone who has agreed not to indulge. If you
are socializing with a group of people who are going to be drinking,
‘Be a Hero, Be a Designated Driver'."
Mr. Elliott lost his
son, Navy Ensign John R. Elliott, 22, of Egg Harbor Township, to
a drunk driver on July 22, 2000. The drunk driver had been arrested
by State Police earlier in the evening and, after following all
processing and charging procedures, State Police released the drunk
driver to the custody of an adult acquaintance. The adult subsequently
allowed the drunk driver to get back into his vehicle and to drive
away - ultimately resulting in the crash that killed John Elliott,
the drunk driver and seriously injured Elliott's female passenger.
"Nearly one year ago our family
suffered the tragic loss of our son John," said Elliott. "Even more
tragic was the knowledge that his death could have and should have
been prevented. That's why our family, in John's name, established
the ‘HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers'. If each of us become
designated drivers, use designated drivers, and encourage others
to do the same, we will help to keep drunk drivers off the road."
Colonel Dunbar announced
that throughout July, state troopers across the state will conduct
a high intensity enforcement campaign targeting drivers and their
passengers who are not wearing seat belts. The program, geared to
increase compliance with New Jersey's primary seat belt law, will
result in the issuance of summonses to drivers for failure to buckle
themselves and their passengers. Troopers will specifically attempt
to identify children not properly secured in approved child restraint
seats. The stepped-up enforcement campaign will run through July
and will be in effect in all State Police patrol areas, including
the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway,
and all interstate highways.
According to Director
O'Hagan, New Jersey's seat belt use rate increased from 63.3% to
74.2% following enactment of the primary seat belt law in May, 2000.
Drivers and front seat passengers who do not wear their seat belts
face a $24 summons.
"People are being needlessly
injured and killed in crashes because they are not buckling up,"
O'Hagan said. "Just last month, six unbuckled people were thrown
out of a vehicle during a crash on the Turnpike. Three persons were
killed. Seat belts prevent ejections and increase a person's chances
of surviving a crash."
The State Police will
maximize patrol resources throughout the 48-hour July 4th holiday
period and urged drivers to stay alert during their summer driving
trips. The highway safety officials reminded that state troopers
and county and municipal police officers will not only focus on
seat belt violators, but will also pay particular attention to the
inattentive, careless and drowsy driver as they go about the business
of enforcing the state's traffic laws and promoting safe driving
As part of the overall
highway safety and enforcement program, increased numbers of state
troopers will be assigned to high visibility tactical patrol units
to monitor traffic using state-of-the-art speed enforcement technology.
Troopers will also be moving around the state to identify the drunk
and drinking driver and will also staff stationary sobriety checkpoints
in all State Police patrol areas.
The 2001 July 4th holiday
officially begins at 12:01 a.m. on Tues., July 3rd and continues
through midnight on Wed., July 4th. During the 2000 July 4th holiday,
18 persons lost their lives as a result of motor vehicle accidents
on New Jersey roadways - seven of the fatal accidents involved drunk
drivers with BAC (blood alcohol content) readings in excess of the
.10 limit. 294 people have died in traffic-related accidents so
far this year (Jan. 1 through June 24) compared to 331 highway deaths
recorded during the same period last year (2000) - a 11.2 percent
drop in overall highway deaths.
In addition to increased
highway safety responsibilities, Colonel Dunbar advised that personnel
assigned to the State Police Marine Patrol Bureau will be patrolling
the ocean, bays, intercoastal waterways, rivers and lakes throughout
the summer boating season. Enforcement activities will focus on
drunk and drinking boaters and persons recklessly operating personal
watercraft (jet skis) and other power vessels.
New Jersey's boating
laws and regulations require that operators of personal watercraft
be at least 16 years of age; that persons born after Jan. 1, 1979
obtain a state boating safety certificate and have that certificate
in their possession when operating any power vessel; that persons
born on or before Dec. 31, 1978 have a state boating safety certificate
in their possession when operating a personal watercraft and that
operators on non-tidal waters have a New Jersey Division of Motor
Vehicles boating license in addition to a state boating safety certificate.
Power vessel operators without a boating certificate will be subject
to fines ranging from $100 to $500.
The New Jersey State
Police also issued a reminder to New Jersey residents and visitors
that all fireworks are illegal to possess and use and that it is
a crime to sell, use, and/or possess any kind of fireworks -- including
Chinese firecrackers, Roman candles, M80's, cherry bombs, salutes,
M100's, sparklers, etc.
The State Police noted
that the vast majority of illegal fireworks are brought into New
Jersey by adults and, as a result of such irresponsible actions,
a disproportionate number of children suffer injuries. In an effort
to prevent injuries and property damage, State Police step-up enforcement
activities during the summer "fireworks season", confiscating illegal
fireworks wherever found. In any given year, the State Police confiscate
between 500 and 1,000 cases of illegal fireworks or approximately
six to eight tons of illegal explosives.
Possession of illegal
fireworks is a disorderly persons offense and is punishable by a
fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Possession with
intent to sell is a Fourth Degree crime, punishable by a fine of
up to $10,000 and/or up to 18 months in jail. And, possession of
destructive devices is a Third Degree crime with fines of up to
$10,000 and incarceration of up to three to five years in jail.
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