With so much emphasis on curbing drinking and driving here in the Garden State it’s no surprise that a great deal of money is funneled to state and municipal law enforcement agencies for enhanced drunken driving saturation patrols and additional DWI roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints. While police agencies, government entities and traffic safety experts maintain that federal funding of anti-DWI campaigns, such as the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” effort, is well spent, some may be concerned that the return on investment is less than optimal.
Nevertheless, as New Jersey drunk driving defense attorneys we see numerous potential clients who have been arrested or cited for driving while intoxicated in counties such as Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean and Sussex. While none of these individuals can be placed in any one category, it’s a good bet that a percentage were not aware that they may have been legally drunk when they were stopped by a patrolman, or flagged over into one of the many DWI checkpoints that pop up from time to time.
The funding for enhanced anti-drunk driving enforcement patrols from time to time means that the odds of being picked up for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prescription meds (drug DWI) or even illegal substances, like marijuana or cocaine, is greatly increased. In fact, towns like Elmwood Park in Bergen County, NJ, have the advantage of being funded on a fairly regular basis to fight drunken driving.
According to news articles, toward the end of August, Bergen County collected more than $100,000 in reimbursements for traffic enforcement activities by the county’s law enforcement departments. These funds included monies earmarked for anti-drunk-driving campaigns that went to municipalities such as Elmwood Park, which alone received more than $40,000 from the Bergen County prosecutor’s office for enhanced DWI enforcement patrols and roadside sobriety checkpoints.
According to reports, Elmwood Park may be one of the worst areas of the Garden State to drive if one has had anything to drink. While most people would agree that drinking and driving is not a safe activity, it’s a fair guess that a percentage of people arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol have little idea as to their level of inebriation; some may even believe that they are not legally drunk, yet still receive a summons for drunk driving.
Based on news reports, the Elmwood Park police are on track to break the department’s previous record for drunken driving arrests in one year; in 2010, for instance, the department made 235 DWI arrests. Not only is Elmwood Park number one in Bergen County, it happens to be the top municipality in the entire state when it comes to writing citations for driving while intoxicated.
According to news articles, one Elmwood Park patrolman was responsible for writing more than 3,500 summonses of all manner of traffic violations, which amazingly equates to almost 10 per day, assuming the officer worked every day of the year. This is a town covering barely three square miles.
While many people argue that the state’s 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content limit is unnecessarily harsh, authorities insist that having even one alcohol beverage is enough to impair a driver’s judgment. In other words, public opinion may indicate otherwise, but don’t expect New Jersey’s legal limit for DWI to be raised any time soon.
Police in Bergen rely on prosecutor’s fund to fight drunk driving, CliffviewPilot.com, September 1, 2011