'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' push underway

Aug. 23—The Lake County Safe Communities Coalition is once again reminding drivers about the lifesaving benefits of not driving while impaired during the United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement effort.

The "high-visibility" campaign, now underway, runs through Sept. 4.

The Safe Communities Coalition recommends the following alternatives to drinking and driving:

—Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely

—If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement

—Take the keys away from friends who have been drinking and make arrangements to get them home safely

—If hosting a party where alcohol will be served, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver

—Always wear your seat belt — it's your best defense against impaired drivers

"We want our community members to understand that it's our first priority to keep people safe, so we're asking everyone to plan ahead if they know they'll be out drinking," said Sgt. Jerry Infalvi of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. "We need commitment from our community members that they'll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe summertime and Labor Day holiday.

"This is an awareness effort to get the message out that impaired driving is illegal and it takes lives."

During the 2021 Labor Day holiday period (from 6 p.m. Sept. 3 to 5:59 a.m. Sept, 7), there were 531 crash fatalities nationwide, officials noted. Of these, 216, reflecting 41 percent, involved a drunk driver, and more than a quarter, 27 percent, involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration almost twice the legal limit (.15-plus).

Age is a particularly risky factor as well. Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2021, 46 percent were drunk.

Additionally, according to the Safety Administration, one person is killed about every 39 minutes in a drunk-driving crash, totaling more than 13,000 lives lost each year.

In support of the law enforcement community's dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, multiple agencies will be working together during the imitative to take impaired drivers off the roads, Infalvi said.

"Let's make this a partnership between law enforcement and drivers: help us protect the community and put an end to this senseless behavior," he added. "No matter how you plan to celebrate the end of the season this year, make sure you plan it safely."