Lt. Governor Brown, Raven's Ray Rice Kick Off 'Checkpoint Strikeforce' Campaign
State and local officials combat drunk driving
BALTIMORE, Md. (August 24, 2010) – At a press conference this evening in Fells Point, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, State Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley, safety advocates and law enforcement partners to officially kick off the ‘Checkpoint Strikeforce’ impaired driving prevention and enforcement campaign. The announcement highlighted safe alternatives to drunk driving that are available to Maryland drivers. Representatives from the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), Safe Ride Solutions and other local transportation providers were also present, handing out free transit tokens, prizes and giveaways that reinforce the importance of planning ahead and arranging for safe alternatives to driving drunk.
“Whether you designate a driver, use public transportation or call a cab, making a conscious decision to not drive under the influence is the smartest play in the playbook,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. “I am proud to stand here today with advocates, officials and representatives to remind our neighbors that we simply will not tolerate impaired driving on our roads. Governor O’Malley and I are committed to protecting our drivers and improving safety on our roads, and we will continue our efforts with local and state partners until drunk driving in Maryland is eliminated.”
Checkpoint Strikeforce is a multi-state, zero-tolerance campaign that uses sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols to get impaired drivers – those under the influence of drugs or alcohol – off state roads. The campaign runs through the remainder of the year and is part of a state initiative that seeks to create a culture where traffic fatalities and serious injuries are inexcusable and will not be tolerated.
“My family was personally impacted from a drunk driving tragedy so this issue is close to home for me,” said Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. “Making the right choice can save lives. If you plan to drink, plan ahead, designate a sober driver or take advantage of local transportation options available. Someone’s life is in your hands.”
Last year in Maryland, 24,000 people were arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Despite the high volume of arrests, alcohol or drugs were a factor in 29 percent of fatal collisions. To combat this issue and to keep roads safe during the busy months of late summer, law enforcement agencies across the region have stepped up their enforcement of drunk driving, both day and night.
“We need people to act responsibly and take advantage of the alternatives available to them rather than getting behind the wheel after drinking,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. “Buses, Metro subway and Light Rail can provide safe passage home as well as simply picking up the phone and calling a taxi cab. The options are there. We urge people to plan ahead and use them.”
Maryland’s zero tolerance law means that individuals under the age of 21 are subject to arrest and license suspension or revocation for any amount of alcohol in their blood. For individuals of legal drinking age, Maryland’s blood alcohol limit (BAC) is .08, which can be reached by consuming as little as one drink over a one-hour period. In addition, Maryland is tougher than most states in that a BAC of .07 can also lead to arrest for a DWI.
“Everyone who drinks, from the occasional happy hour patron to the weekend regular, has the freedom to decide to drive drunk or find an alternative. Unfortunately not everyone realizes their responsibility to keep our roads safe,” said Lt. Col. Michael Andrew of the Baltimore City Police Department. “That’s why Checkpoint Strikeforce will conduct checkpoints at all times of day and night to catch and arrest impaired drivers. They will have zero tolerance: if you drive drunk, you will be arrested.”
The Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign is a six-month long, sustained and highly-visible enforcement and public information initiative coordinated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Region III Office. Maryland, in close coordination with Virginia and the District of Columbia, leads this effort as a means to curb impaired driving through the use of education, enforcement and accompanying outreach efforts in highly targeted jurisdictions throughout the state. The targeted Maryland areas are based on impaired driving crash, fatality, injury, arrest and judicial outcome data and include the Central Maryland/Baltimore area, the Washington, DC metropolitan area, the Southern market and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This enforcement and public awareness program is intended to increase awareness of enforcement efforts and the consequences of impaired driving from a legal, health and public safety perspective.
For more information on safe alternatives to drunk driving and other resources in your area, visit www.duiisforlosers.com.