Officers will be cracking down on impaired driving in the coming weeks, part of the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, Lt. Chris Baker announced.
"Needham Police officers will be aggressively looking for all impaired drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone they find driving while impaired—regardless of age, vehicle type or time of day," Baker said in a press release.
About 128 law enforcement agencies statewide will participate in this "intensive crackdown" from Aug. 15 to Sept. 3, Baker said.
The campaign is part of a national program and funded by a federal grant administered through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division.
According to Baker's press release: "Impaired driving is one of America’s most often committed and deadliest crimes. In 2010, 115 people died in impaired-driving related crashes in the Commonwealth. Moreover, there were an additional 2,750 impaired driving related personal injury and property damage crashes and almost 14,635 impaired driving arrests."
"On average, there is one alcohol impaired driving-related fatality every 51 minutes across America," the press release states. "The number of drivers operating under the influence increases during holiday weekends, especially during summer holidays."
Impaired driving includes those who drive while under the influence of prescription and illicit drugs, not just alcohol—a growing problem that can have just as deadly results, according to a column by Needham Public Health Department employee Carol Read.
"We [Needham Police Department, the Needham Public Health Department and the Needham Public Schools] are working together to implement multi-sector, multi strategy approaches to substance abuse prevention targeted toward decreasing the risk factors associated with substance abuse and increasing the protective factors that empower youth to remain substance free," Read wrote in the .
Individuals who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face jail time and loss of their driver licenses, not to mention higher insurance rates. They also may be sentenced to use ignition interlocks, which are breathalyzer-like devices that link up to a vehicle's ignition. The driver must breathe into the device and test below the legal blood alcohol concentration for the engine to start.
"Other financial hits include attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of job or job prospects," according to Baker's press release. "All told, a first offense can easily cost well over $5,000."