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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2021
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: IF YOU ARE DRINKING, DO NOT DRIVE

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

NEW CITY, NY, - The holiday season is here, and now that new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holidays. According to American Automobile Association (AAA), the majority of people who plan to travel for the holidays will be driving. More cars on the roads can result in more drivers who are impaired by alcohol and more drunk driving fatalities.

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 40% of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year's involve drunk drivers. According to NHTSA, 837 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver in December 2019. Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] of .08 or higher). In New York State, it's illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. However, even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability. In 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in drunk-driving crashes, of which 68% (6,872) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 or higher.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert remind residents to these take steps from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you've had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
  • If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home. If you're hosting a party where alcohol will be served, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone's life.

"Driving while impaired not only can result in driver's license revocation, fines, and jail time but you can also be involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury or death. If you will be celebrating, plan ahead. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home, and if you are the designated driver take that role seriously, and do not consume alcohol, not even one drink. Remember to always wear your seat belt—it's your best defense against impaired drivers," said Dr. Ruppert.

During the holiday season, the STOP-DWI "Impaired Driving Enforcement Operations" Program is in full force until January 1, 2022. Law enforcement agencies from across Rockland County and the New York State Police will be on patrol enforcing DWI-related offenses. Impaired driving is completely preventable. You can help to make a difference by Having a Sober Plan! Download the STOP-DWI mobile app – "Have a Plan," and you will always be able to find a safe ride home www.stopdwi.org/mobileapp.

Rockland County STOP-DWI & Traffic Safety Coordinator Dr. Albert Del Principio said "Drunk driving is an epidemic on the rise, and we need to do all we can to prevent further tragedies. You can hand over your keys or your life. Make the right choice."

For more information on National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/index.html and the NHTSA website at www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.