PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association reports that law enforcement agencies across the state are increasing the number of impaired driving patrols during the holiday season as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign.
The 2022 Holiday Season National Enforcement Mobilization began Wednesday, Dec. 14 and runs through Jan. 1. During this time, agencies will have officers specifically on the lookout for impaired and reckless drivers on the roads.
The Providence Police Department’s Breath Alcohol Testing (B.A.T.) Mobile Unit will be used by police departments across the state during the enforcement campaign, allowing officers to have a centralized location to process DUI arrests, including administering breathalyzer tests. Departments will also have trained Drug Recognition Experts on hand to further evaluate drivers who may be operating while under the influence of a controlled substance other than alcohol.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the New Year’s and Christmas periods in 2020, there were 209 drunk-driving-related fatalities. In 2020, there were 11,654 people killed nationwide in drunk-driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of the crash fatalities that year.
According to the NHTSA, people ages 21-34 accounted for the highest percentage (26%) of alcohol-impaired fatalities in December 2020. Nighttime driving in December 2020 was significantly more dangerous than daytime driving, with 30% of drunk-driving-related crashes occurring between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5:50 a.m. Almost half (44%) occur between the hours of midnight and 2:59 a.m., likely when bars are closing and people are driving home.
Nationally, it is illegal to drive impaired — no exceptions. It is illegal to drive in Rhode Island with a BAC of .08 or higher. However, remember that even a small amount of alcohol or drugs can quickly affect a person and their judgment.
To ensure safety on roadways this holiday season, RIPCA recommends the following tips:
- If you plan to drink, make a plan ahead of time for a sober ride home. Designate a sober driver, or plan to use public transportation or a ride share service.
- Watch out for your family and friends. If someone you know is impaired and planning to drive, take their keys and make arrangements to get them home safely.
- If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, help out the designated drivers by making sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available.
- Never get into a vehicle if the driver is impaired.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, safely pull over and call 911.
Drivers are also reminded to always wear their seat belt, to follow the speed limit and to never drive distracted.