Party animals, you're on notice - get behind the wheel in an altered state of consciousness this weekend in Ocean County, and if you're lucky enough to stay alive, it still might be a huge, costly mistake.

DWI Checkpoint
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Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato places special DWI checkpoints this weekend on Route 35 in Point Pleasant Beach. In light of rampant heroin and opiate abuse, officers will be on the lookout for drivers with excess alcohol or narcotics in their systems.

Two Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) will be stationed at each checkpoint. The professionals add the detail to their continuing standby status to assist in motor vehicle incidents, anywhere in Ocean County, in which impaired driving is suspected.

The county's population, normally around 600,000, swells to more than a million during summer months. Chances of crashes, pedestrian accidents and deaths increase exponentially. Coronato urges drivers to use an extra measure of caution.

County data indicates 26 road deaths in Ocean County so far in 2017, more than half the 45 that were recorded for all of 2016.

“The tremendous added volume of summer shore vehicle and pedestrian traffic calls for increased vigilance by law enforcement, and that will be the focus over this coming weekend," Coronato said in prepared comments. "We ask that drivers do their part by driving responsibly and making smart choices behind the wheel every day of the year.”

In addition to identifying distracted and aggressive drivers, DWI checkpoints serve to "detect, educate, deter, arrest, and vigorously prosecute" impaired drivers, in the interest of road safety, authorities said.

Local police staff the checkpoints in collaboration with county detectives and K9 teams from the county Sheriff's office. The program operates on funds from the Board of Freeholders and New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, and is coordinated by the Prosecutor's Vehicular Homicide Unit, led by Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Weatherstone.

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