Law-enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey, aiming to crack down on drunken driving, will conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints throughout the holiday season.
"Over the Limit, Under Arrest," a program also used during the summer, when Shore traffic increases, was put into effect Monday and will continue through Jan. 2, according to Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
The program provides $5,000 federal grants through the division to 115 law-enforcement departments. The grants help pay for extra patrols and sobriety tests.
"Our goal is to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday by keeping intoxicated drivers off the roads," Poedubicky said. "Concentrated efforts such as this one will heighten awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, and the consequences motorists can face if they choose to drink and drive."
All departments in New Jersey have received information on the program and were asked to run checkpoints and saturation patrols during the season as well.
David Raso, a lieutenant in Deptford's police department, said he welcomed the opportunity to participate.
"We see a rise in drunk driving during the holidays, and we are thankful that the Division of Highway Traffic Safety allows us to do this," Raso said. "This time of year, we see a lot more crashes, and this program will help to reduce those incidents."
Beyond increased patrols, the program uses banners, posters, national TV public-service announcements, and mobile video display signs to promote awareness of the perils of drunken driving.
Walt Miller, a lieutenant in Evesham's police department, said he sees the value in the program, which began in 1999.
"We see an increase in drunk-driving arrests during the program, and it makes the streets safer by getting people off the streets before they can do damage to themselves or others," he said.
In 2009, 189 people were killed in New Jersey in 179 alcohol-related crashes, according to the state's Department of Law and Public Safety - accounting for 32 percent of traffic fatalities in the state last year.