Dec 172013

Groton Police Chief Donald Palma joined Massachusetts State Police Colonel Timothy P. Alben in warning motorists to not drink and drive during the holiday season. In a mobilization that began this past weekend, Massachusetts State Troopers and police officers from numerous local departments — including Groton — are out in force, running extra patrols to catch drunk drivers. The extra police presence is funded with federal grant money administered through the state (EOPSS) Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

Palma said, “We as a matter of practice put out extras during the holiday season. I think the (State Police) press release speaks for itself. We agree and will be out in force as well.”

The State Police press release Palma referred to points out that there are “…nearly 200 police departments taking part in the national enforcement program called ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.'”

“The holiday season provides increased opportunities for people to consume alcohol at parties with friends, family and colleagues,” Alben said. “While it is fine to celebrate, people have to do so responsibly. When they don’t, that’s where we come in.”

State Police will utilize grant funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to fund sobriety checkpoints and related saturation patrols on most weekend nights throughout the mobilization, which runs through Jan. 1. Each checkpoint is preceded by several hours of patrols by approximately 15 additional officers per night in targeted areas. The goal is to get impaired operators off the roads before they cause injuries or fatalities to themselves or other drivers.

“We have zero tolerance for impaired driving,” Colonel Alben said. “Do not let 2013 end, or 2014 begin, in tragedy.”

In addition to the checkpoints and saturation patrols State Police will deploy, many local departments will utilize NHTSA grant funding administered through EOPSS to roll extra patrols to enhance roadway safety in their communities.

Police say that in 2011, 114 people in Massachusetts were killed in crashes that involved drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. In addition to the increased opportunities to consume alcohol, statistics show the holiday season is also a particularly deadly time due to the increased number of people on the road.

Police recommend these tips for a safe holiday season:

  • Plan a safe way home before festivities begin.
  • Designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
  • Call a taxi, friend or family member for a ride or use public transportation if you have been drinking.
  • Don’t hesitate to call police if you see an impaired driver.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get home.