In an effort to keep Pennsylvania roads safe during the Independence Day holiday period, PennDOT and law enforcement agencies across the state have announced that they are partnering to crack down on impaired drivers. The initiative is part of a national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement effort which runs through July 8.
In addition to stepped-up enforcement on roads, including in Indiana County, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) said waterways conservation officers will be on the lookout for impaired watercraft operators through the boating season.
“The Independence Day holiday is a time to celebrate with friends and family, but we should always celebrate safely,” PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said in a press release. “No matter whether you’re driving a vehicle or a boat, never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Designate a driver ahead of time or arrange for a ride home.”
According to PennDOT data, there were 355 alcohol-related crashes and 20 fatalities in those crashes from Friday, June 29, to Sunday, July 8, last year. That was an increase from 2011, when there were 325 crashes and 14 fatalities from Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 10.
PFBC data shows that 60 people were arrested for boating under the influence in 2012. BUI penalties can include jail time and fines.
“Operating a boat or other watercraft when you’ve been drinking creates a danger for everyone on the water,” Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway said. “Alcohol impairs your ability to operate a boat safely. For the safety of all individuals on the water, please do not operate your boat, jet ski, canoe or kayak if you’ve been drinking.”
The legal blood alcohol content in Pennsylvania is 0.08 for motorists over the age of 21. For underage drivers, the blood alcohol limit is 0.02 percent. DUI penalties can include jail time, license suspension and fines of between $500 and $5,000.
“Our enforcement efforts play a key role in protecting the public, but we need the cooperation of every motorist to put an end to impaired driving,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “Each individual has a responsibility to stay out of the driver’s seat if he or she is impaired by alcohol or other drugs.”
Pennsylvania’s DUI Task Force, the Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement statewide will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols as part of the impaired-driving crackdown. Funding comes from part of PennDOT’s statewide distribution of $4.2 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.