Local police have been putting extra emphasis on drunken driving patrols due in part to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national campaign, which ended Monday.
The program began Aug. 16 and involved 156 New Jersey police agencies, including Absecon, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Northfield, Somers Point and the county Sheriff's Office in Atlantic County; Avalon, Lower Township, Middle Township and Ocean City in Cape May County; Millville and Vineland in Cumberland County; and Barnegat Township in Ocean County.
Each department was awarded a $4,400 grant to target drunken driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, nearly 10,000 people die each year on roadways due to drunken driving, which would be equivalent to 20 jumbo jets crashing each year.
The last time the NHTSA spearheaded a crackdown on driving while intoxicated, which was during the 2012 holiday season in December, the result was 1,555 drunken-driving arrests, more than 5,000 speeding citations and more than 3,000 seat belt arrests, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
The results from the most recent program had not been released to NHTSA as of Tuesday. However, several local law-enforcement agencies reported it was a success.
Somers Point Police Chief Michael Boyd said through the grant, the department conducted 15 six-hour details, in which the officer’s sole purpose was to focus on traffic violations and DWI enforcement.
“They were not answering calls to their radio. All of their focus was on that task,” Boyd said.
The results was several DWI arrests, he said. An official number was unavailable Tuesday.
Northfield Police Lt. Paul Newman said the department made one DWI arrest as well as 67 car stops and 20 other summons during DWI roving patrols.
Galloway Township Police Sgt. Joe Picardi reported one DWI arrest, 146 cars stops, 32 summons issued, three drug arrests — one of which included use of a stun gun — and three other arrests.
Middle Township police Capt. John Edwards said the department made four DWI arrests, and Lower Township Police reported two. The reports from the other local agencies involved in the campaign were not available Tuesday.
Newman said in his opinion, even one DWI arrest is a success.
“Anything we can do to get drunk drivers off our roads is worth the effort,” he said.
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