(Special to westernkansasnews.com)
TOPEKA, Kan. — Law enforcement agencies across the nation are joining forces over the holidays to remind drivers it’s deadly, dangerous and illegal to drive under the influence of illegal drugs, alcohol and some prescription drugs. More than 150 Kansas law enforcement agencies will be extra vigilant to spot impaired drivers as part of the national enforcement campaign that runs Dec. 21-31.
“The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road,” said Chris Bortz, Kansas Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Program Manager. “Too often while celebrating over the holidays impaired drivers get behind the wheel, and it’s never OK to drive impaired.”
In 2017, approximately 17 percent of crashes over the holiday week were alcohol-related. Drug-impaired driving has become a growing threat on roads across the nation. From 2007 to 2015, marijuana usage doubled among drivers killed in crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Kansas law enforcement want to remind drivers that if you drive drunk or high, you will get a DUI.
“Impaired driving causes injuries, physical and emotional, that can last a lifetime, and it’s a serious crime. Don’t take a risk with your future or somebody else’s – driving either drunk or high is a DUI,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “This holiday season designate a sober driver or use a ridesharing service to ensure everybody makes it home safely.”
Impaired drivers can face jail time, suspension of their driving privileges, fines and other costs of up to $10,000. Included in this cost, the offender will be required to install and pay monthly services fees on an ignition interlock. Beyond the financial and legal penalties, impaired drivers face the risk of losing their own lives or taking someone else’s.
If you plan on using any substance that inhibits your driving, plan ahead and designate a sober driver, Bortz said. Use public transportation, a taxi, ride share service or your community’s sober ride program to get home safely.