Hawaii DOT Reminds Motorists to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 in Highways News, Main, News

The Hawaii Department of Transportation, in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement in all four counties, are cracking down on impaired driving.  This year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement and education campaign runs August 15 through the Labor Day holiday on September 1.  The goal of this campaign is to prevent impaired driving, whether it is from alcohol, drugs or prescription medications.

This year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is part of a nationwide effort to prevent impaired driving.  Hawaii Department of Transportation Interim Director Ford Fuchigami said, “Driving impaired is reckless and 100 percent preventable, and it’s up to us to get that point across.”  

Across all four counties, police will be patrolling Hawaii’s roadways and conducting sobriety checkpoints to enforce impaired driving laws.  On August 22, the Hawaii Department of Transportation will begin airing a new public service announcement, “Medicated Driving May Cause DUI,” which warns of the dangers of drugged driving.  The public service announcement will air across the state.

“Over 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes every year in the United States,” Fuchigami said. “But drugged driving is also a huge problem, and it’s growing”.  

While the number of drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes declined nationally over the past five years, the number of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs increased from 13 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2009.  One in three drivers with known drug-test results who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 tested positive for drugs (illegal substances as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications). 

If drivers are caught driving impaired, they will be arrested. However, there are also those who unknowingly drive impaired.  Drivers taking prescription medication should take care to read and follow warning labels and patient educational pamphlets that accompany medication, and heed any warnings not to operate heavy machinery like motor vehicles. Seniors and the elderly, in particular, are at significant risk for prescription drug abuse in which they intentionally or unintentionally take too much medication or medications that are medically necessary, but may impair one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Hawaii police officers have been trained to recognize impairment caused by drugs and prescription medication through the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program and their expertise is put to use in both enforcing impaired driving laws and in prosecuting them.  Currently, Hawaii has 64 DREs across six agencies statewide. 

Police officers are doing their part to keep the roads safe.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation and county police departments ask the public to do their part:  Don’t drink and drive and don’t drive while medicated.