For many New Jersey residents, rather than enjoy this past Labor Day weekend they likely spent most of their time cleaning up from the effects of tropical storm Irene. Still, in areas less affected, surely some Garden State drivers saw some increased drunken driving enforcement activities by state and local police. As part of the national “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign, it’s a fair bet that dozens of motorists had encounters with law enforcement officers during what has become an annual anti-DWI effort.
Of course, it’s hardly a good idea to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, as well as illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. But during the last two weeks, drivers who did take their chances by drinking and driving may have met with a DWI or drug DUI arrest or summons to appear in court.
This effort took place in nearly every county across New Jersey, including Bergen, Hudson, Union, Monmouth and Ocean, just to name a few. As a drunken driving defense lawyer and former municipal prosecutor myself, I understand how some individuals can be pickup up for driving while intoxicated, though perhaps be unaware that they were legally impaired at the time of their arrest.
Whether stopped by a rolling DWI patrol for an apparent minor traffic offense, or being waved into a sobriety checkpoint (also known as a DWI roadblock for observation by a police officer looking for drunken drivers, the resulting charges of drunken driving or impairment due to prescription medication or an illegal drug (also known as a controlled dangerous substance or CDS) can be costly in terms of fines and penalties, as well as the impact on an individual’s personal and business relationships or standing in the community.
Action against drunk drivers was increased all across the state. For example, police in communities such as Bloomfield, Parsippany, and Linden, NJ, targeted drunken drivers during the three-week “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” crackdown from mid August through Labor Day.
State law enforcement authorities stated that 152 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in 2010, which is more than a quarter of the highway traffic deaths recorded across the state last year. From statistics provided by the state’s police agencies, of those DWI-related fatal crash deaths, more than one-third occurred during the summertime driving season, according to news reports.
Based on news reports, the three-week crackdown by police departments in counties like Essex, Middlesex, Mercer, Somerset and Warren counties, included so-called saturation patrols and sobriety roadblocks. For the record, according to news articles, this is year 12 for the annual drunk driving crackdown, which every year provides more than $4,000 to more than 100 police departments around the state to cover the extra man hours needed to carry out the campaign through the use of additional police officers and patrolmen.
For anyone considering going out for a night on the town with friend, it may be well worth it — in order to possibly avoid a DWI arrest — to follow a few simple steps, such as taking mass transit or a taxi, asking a sober friend for a ride instead of trying to drive while impaired, and even spending the night close by to the event where drinking may be taking place.
Bloomfield Police taking part in ‘Over the Limit, Under Arrest’, NorthJersey.com, August 18, 2011
Parsippany Police Target Drunk Drivers, Patch.com, August 16, 2011