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Office of Public Information (609) 882-2000
Sgt. Stephen Jones ext. 6513
Maureen Sczpanski 609-984-2529

March 13, 2008

Stay Safe and Sober on St. Patrick’s Day

Trenton, N.J. – Law enforcement officers throughout the State will be working this St. Patrick’s Day to keep intoxicated drivers off the road, in an effort to protect all New Jersey motorists from the tragedies associated with drunk driving, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer and State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes announced today.

“If you’re planning a St. Patrick’s Day celebration that includes alcohol, under no circumstances should you get behind the wheel of a car,” Fischer said. “Drunk drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone on the road. There’s simply no excuse for drinking and driving. And anyone who chooses to take this senseless risk will be stopped and arrested.”

“We have a new cell phone law, a reduced speed limit on the Garden State Parkway, and a lower alcohol threshold, but laws don’t drive cars,” said Colonel Fuentes. “And even though New Jersey is coming off a 20-year low for fatal crashes, it only takes one holiday of bad driving decisions to raise that number.”

Local, county and state law enforcement will have stepped-up patrols throughout New Jersey the weekend of March 14 through the 17, as they look for drunk drivers.

In New Jersey during the past 10 years, 41 percent of fatal crashes (12 out of a total of 29) occurring between 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day and 6 a.m. the following day were alcohol or drug-related.

Additionally, in 2006, 240 people were killed as a result of alcohol-related crashes on New Jersey highways. That number represents 31 percent of the 774 traffic fatalities reported in the State.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during St. Patrick’s Day 2006, 44 percent of the 105 drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Sixty-three percent of those impaired drivers died in the crash.

Nationwide in 2006, 42,642 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of that number, 13,470 individuals were killed in crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of .08 or higher.

“The potentially tragic consequences of drunk driving are tremendous and reach far beyond penalties and fines,” Fischer added. “Behind these crash statistics are families and friends trying to understand this senseless loss of life.”

Motorists are also asked this St. Patrick’s Day to subscribe to the pledge of the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers: drive sober, be a designated driver and don’t let your friends drive drunk. Under the effort, local businesses and community groups, law enforcement agencies, and schools work together to keep drunk drivers off the road. Started in New Jersey by the Elliott family following the tragic death of their son John in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, the campaign has become a national model for preventing drunk driving.

Individuals attending a St. Patrick’s Day celebration are also reminded to:

  • Use mass transit, a cab or car service to get you to and from your destination.
  • Immediately report drunk drivers you may see on the roadways to law enforcement.
  • Never let a friend drive drunk. If you know someone is about to drive while impaired, take his or her keys and arrange for a ride home.

Additional information on drunk driving prevention and enforcement programs is available on the Division’s web site at

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