Last Thanksgiving weekend, five of the seven people who died on New Jersey roads were passengers in vehicles, says Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato. No one died on Ocean County highways. He aims to ensure that Ocean County is fatality-free this weekend, but he'll need all the help you can offer.

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (Townsquare Media)
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (Townsquare Media)

Coronato today announced enhanced DUI and traffic safety enforcement throughout Ocean County, chockablock with checkpoints and a passel of patrols.

The Prosecutor noted a rise in New Jersey highway deaths in each of the past three years - 480 in 2015, 534 in 2016, and 540 this year, with just about five weeks left in it.

"Drivers must remember the safety of their passengers and others depends solely on their commitment to drive responsibility," he said in prepared comments. "The Thanksgiving holiday is for celebrating family and loved ones. We beg those who get behind the wheel this holiday to drive responsibly and make smart choices to assure this holiday remains a time for celebration and not mourning."

The crosshairs are trained on drivers who are inattentive, aggressive, or under the influence of alcohol. Plus, in light of Ocean County's ongoing opiate struggle, a pair of drug recognition experts will be assigned to each checkpoint.

Coronato added that during Thanksgiving weekend 2016, two of six fatal crashes involved drugs or alcohol. So,even if you can beat a Breathalyzer, anything else in your system that doesn't belong there while you're driving can give you away.

Financed by the Ocean County Board of Freeholders and New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the checkpoints will be staffed by police in each municipality where they are placed, along with members of the Prosecutor's Office and K9 teams from the Ocean County Sheriff's Department.

Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Weatherstone oversees the program, through the Prosecutor's Vehicular Homicide Unit.

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