The Harford County Sheriff's Office will conduct a sobriety checkpoint over the Labor Day weekend.
The checkpoint, part of a continued crackdown on drunk driving, will take place during the late evening hours of Saturday, Aug. 31, and continue into the early morning hours of Sunday Sept. 1.
The Sheriff's Office is a participant in the annual nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" drunk driving enforcement effort. Deputies will be aggressively looking for drunk drivers during the crackdown.
"Every year, about one third of all motor vehicle traffic deaths involve one or more drunk drivers or motorcycle operators," Sheriff Jesse Bane said in a news release. "In 2011 9,878 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers. That works out to approximately one drunk driving fatality every 53 minutes."
Bane added that holidays such as Labor Day are particularly dangerous. During the Labor Day weekend in 2011, 138 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with blood alcohol content levels of .08, which is considered under the influence, or higher. Of those fatalities, 83 percent occurred during early evening and overnight hours.
Sheriff's deputies have made 162 drunk driving arrests so far in 2013, Bane said.
Drunk driving takes a particularly heavy toll among young drivers. Among 18-to 34-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, 42 percent were alcohol-impaired, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign reduces drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. By joining this nationwide effort, we will make Harford County roadways safer for everyone throughout the Labor Day period," Bane said.
Bane noted that being arrested on driving drunk charges brings a range of negative consequences. Drunk drivers face jail time, loss of their driver's licenses and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney's fees, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of their job. When family, friends and co-workers find out, violators also often face tremendous personal embarrassment.
Some simple tips to help motorists and passengers keep safe this Labor Day holiday period — and all year long – include:
• Plan a safe way home before you start the Labor Day festivities.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
• If you're drunk, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact law enforcement immediately.
• If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while drunk, be a friend and take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to safely to where they're going.
"Driving drunk is simply not worth the risk. So don't take the chance. Make smart choices and don't drive drunk or under the influence. We will be out in force and we will be watching, so 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,'" Bane said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun