"Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."
That's the message that police from all over the state want to send in advance of a statewide crackdown on impaired driving aimed at keeping the roadways safe over the Fourth of July holiday.
And the numbers bear out that the crackdown is needed.
Over last year's Independence Day holiday travel period, there were 897 crashes and 14 fatalities in Pennsylvania, according to a press release from PennDOT. Of those, 146 crashes and six fatalities were alcohol related.
Pennsylvania's DUI Task Forces, the Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement statewide will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols as part of the crackdown. Funding comes from part of PennDOT's statewide distribution of $4.2 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Locally, the Warren and Forest Counties DUI Enforcement Team will be doing roving patrols and checkpoints over the holiday weekend.
"Our message (to people) is to go out and have fun, but be responsible before you go out," Youngsville Police Chief and DUI Task Force member Todd Mineweaser said. "Find a driver. Plan ahead. Use your head."
The last local checkpoint was on June 9 on Route 6 in Youngsville, Mineweaser explained. Through that checkpoint, 17 traffic citations were issued, two people were taken into custody and transferred to Warren General Hospital for suspected DUI, one person was cited for underage drinking and three people were arrested on drug charges.
Checkpoints are a team effort.
The Warren County DUI Task Force is made up of units from Youngsville, Conewango Township and Warren Police departments as well as the Warren County Sheriff's Office. The Warren County Adult Probation Department, the Warren County Jail and the District Attorney's office also participate.
"Many people will celebrate and travel for the Independence Day holiday," PennDOT secretary Barry Schoch said. "Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts your life and the lives of those around you in danger. Designate a driver ahead of time or arrange for a ride home - just don't drive unless you're sober."
During 2011, there were 11,778 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania, according to PennDOT data, in which 425 people were killed. In 2010, there were 11,862 alcohol-related crashes, according to PennDOT, in which 444 people were killed.
The legal blood-alcohol content in Pennsylvania is 0.08 for motorists over the age of 21. For underage drivers, the blood-alcohol limit is 0.02 percent. DUI penalties can include jail time, license suspension and fines of between $500 and $5,000.