Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office reminds public to drive sober or get pulled over

News from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office

OKEECHOBEE — The holidays are a time for caring and sharing, which is why the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is partnering with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office to share the message about the dangers of drunken driving. This holiday season, now through Jan. 12, 2020, law enforcement will participate in the high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunken driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

Sadly, the statistics prove that there is still a lot of work to do to put an end to drunken driving. According to NHTA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 10,511 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2018. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2014 to 2018 — one person was killed in drunk-driving crashes every 50 minutes in 2018. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. This is why the sheriff’s office is working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death. As you head out to the holiday festivities, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

According to NHTSA’s FARS, 839 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver during the month of December 2018. During the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods in 2018 alone, there were more drunken-driving-related fatalities (285) than during any other holiday period that year. These fatalities are preventable, and drivers must remember that driving impaired by any substance, drugs or alcohol, is deadly, illegal and selfish behavior.

“The holidays should be an enjoyable time for our community members, not a marker for the death of a loved one due to a drunk-driving crash,” said Okeechobee Sheriff Noel E. Stephen. “We need commitment from our community members that they’ll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it takes lives. Help us put an end to this senseless behavior,” he said.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely. “Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Sheriff Stephen. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, during the holiday season, we will make zero exceptions and arrest all drunk drivers. There are just no excuses,” he said.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
• Remember that it is never OK 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 sharing service to get home safely.
• If available, use your community’s sober ride program.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the sheriff’s office.
• Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangement to get your friend home safely.

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