With the upcoming New Year's holiday falling on a weekend this year, there's greater concern that accidents from impaired driving could increase in New Jersey.

"Unfortunately, the holidays are a prime time for impaired drivers and the odds of getting into a crash increases," said Gary Poedubicky, acting director for the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

With the two-day holiday landing on Saturday and Sunday this year, he pointed out, "there could be more congestion on the roads and as traffic volumes increase, so does the likelihood of a crash."

During the two-day New Year's holiday period last year, nine people were killed on New Jersey highways, according to Poedubicky.

"Five of those were pedestrians, and of the nine fatalities, seven were impaired by either alcohol or drugs," Poedubicky said. "During the 2014-15 New Year’s holiday period, there were six fatalities compared to nine last year. Of those six, only two were alcohol or drug impaired."

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can cost a life, and it can cost thousands of dollars in penalties and surcharges.

A person driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or greater in New Jersey is considered legally drunk.

"Depending on the drunk driving offense, fines can range from $250 for a first offense to $1,000 for a third offense. License suspensions also can range from three months on a first offense to 10 years for a third offense. And there's an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for three years, as well as some other penalties associated with drinking and driving," said Poedubicky.

Law enforcement agencies in New Jersey have been conducting saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints since Dec. 9 as part of the National Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drunk driving campaign, and will continue to do so until Jan. 1, according to Poedubicky.

"Grants have been provided to 151 agencies and the New Jersey State Police. However, all of the police departments are expected to participate in the campaign," Poedubicky added.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.


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