Some motorists chose to make their holidays merrier by drinking and driving over the Christmas weekend, resulting in a sharp uptick in the number of DUI arrests made by Pennsylvania State Police during a special enforcement period from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26.
According to a news release issued by the state police barracks at Bethlehem, troopers made 17 DUI arrests during that period, which is 11 more than they made in 2019. Special enforcement initiatives were curtailed in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The number of crashes during the three-day Christmas period increased from 32 in 2019 to 37 this year, according to the news release, and the number of alcohol-related crashes ticked up from zero to four. Additionally, one of the crashes was fatal. The number of speeding citations also increased from 82 in 2019 to 98 in 2021, troopers said.
State police also announced their special enforcement initiative for the New Year’s weekend, which will be from 12:01 a.m. Friday, Dec. 31 to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2.
According to data shared in the news release, state police officers from Troop M made 13 arrests and investigated 23 crashes–including two that were determined to be alcohol related–during the same period in 2019-2020.
The New Year’s enforcement is part of state police’s safety initiative PADEEP (Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement Education Program), and they will be on the lookout for drivers who are speeding, seat belt infractions and child safety seat infractions, as well as distracted drivers who may be texting or using a handheld mobile device while driving, the release said. Troopers will also be on the lookout for impaired motorists as part of STEADD (Selective Traffic Enforcement Against Drunk Drivers).
Law enforcement agencies often conduct sobriety checkpoints during the holiday season, when celebrations involving alcohol are more common and thus drunk driving is more prevalent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to the NHTSA, around the U.S. “during the New Year’s and Christmas periods in 2018 there were 285 drunk-driving-related fatalities,” all of which were preventable.
Troop M patrols Lehigh, Northampton and Bucks counties out of stations located in Bethlehem, Belfast, Fogelsville, Dublin and Trevose.