Drivers looking to artificially increase their enjoyment of the holiday this weekend may want to leave the driving to someone else.
According to a Pennsylvania DUI Association press release, PennDOT will be partnering with law enforcement across the state as part of a broader national "Drive Sober of Get Pulled Over" impaired driving enforcement effort this Labor Day weekend.
"We are doing roving DUI patrols this weekend," Cpl. Mark Cumberland of the Warren-based state police said. "To my knowledge, we are not doing any specific check points, but several troopers are doing roving patrols."
Sobering warning: Police will be watching
PennDOT is taking the opportunity to raise awareness of another growing impairment problem: drugged driving.
"As we remind motorists to drive sober for the Labor Day holiday, we also want to raise awareness of the growing safety threat that drugged drivers present," PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said in the press release. "While overall DUI crashes are trending downward, we're seeing a troubling increase in drug-related crashes each year."
In 2011, 3,073 drug-related crashes occurred in the Commonwealth, according to PennDOT statistics, including 116 fatalities. This marks an increase of 1,000 crashes and 27 fatalities compared to data provided from 2005.
Last year, PennDOT reports 11,778 alcohol-related crashes and 425 fatalities. This is a decrease of 1,572 crashes and 157 fatalities in the same period.
According to the press release, there were 50,413 DUI arrests in 2011. Of those arrests, 13,907, or approximately 27 percent, were drug-based. In 2010, there were 52,126 DUI arrests and 11,808 were drug-based or approximately 23 percent. "Driving under the influence of drug arrests continue to account for a larger percentage of these arrests," the press release noted.
"We want to remind everybody to stay safe," Cumberland added. "Don't drive if you've been drinking. We will be out in force for the holiday weekend."
Penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania can include jail time, license suspension, fines of up to $5,000 and thousands of dollars in additional costs.