Having a drink before — or during — a drive? If you’re tempted to try this, one Lake County city’s police department is warning that they’ll be watching your every move. (Photo by Michael Freeman).
EUSTIS — It’s the final weekend to get out and head to the beach, enjoy a family barbeque, visit relatives or take on the local theme parks and attractions before the nation’s schools reopen and the summer vacation season comes officially to an end.
But while Labor Day offers families an opportunity to have one last weekend together, it also means a lot of cars on the road — and, tragically, the temptation for some motorists to make the fatal decision to drink and drive.
During the 2010 Labor Day weekend, from 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 that year until 5:59 a.m. on Sept. 7, 147 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher, the Eustis Police Department is noting.
To make sure this city in northern Lake County doesn’t end up with similarly high drunk driving statistics this month, the Eustis Deparment Department is launching its “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign this month — an effort to get the word out early that drinking and driving on Lake County’s roads and highways is an open invitation to a jail sentence.
In doing so, the Eustis Police Department is joining nearly 10,000 law enforcement agencies across the country to support an “intensive crackdown over the Labor Day holiday that will target anyone driving impaired,” noted Officer Robert Simken, community relations officer for the Eustis Police Department.
What that will mean for his department, Simken said, is beefed up enforcement that includes special concentrated patrols, saturation points and DUI checkpoints, starting on Friday, Aug. 17, and continuing through the holiday on Sept. 3.
“If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested and you will face serious consequences,” Simken noted in a release about the new anti-drunk driving campaign.
What law enforcement all too often encounters on these holiday weekends, Simken said, is that some motorists simply disregard the risks of consuming alcohol when they expect to then get behind the wheel of a car and drive somewhere.
“Despite the fact that every driver should know it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle or motorcycle while impaired, thousands of people get behind the wheel each year with a blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher—the legal limit in all 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico,” Simken noted. “In fact, more than 10,000 people died in crashes in 2010 that involved a driver or motorcycle rider who had a BAC of .08 or higher. That is one person every 51 minutes who died needlessly in a crash that likely could have been prevented if alcohol had not been involved.”
To reverse these sorry statistics, the upcoming “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3 will target — and arrest — all drivers found to be impaired.
As Simken noted in his release, across the nation, law enforcement agencies plan to use the weeks leading up to the holiday weekend to take aggressive steps to cut down on the number of impaired-driving fatalities across the nation.
In 2010, he noted, these accidents accounted for 31 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities across the U.S. — with young adults most often the ones at the highest risk. National studies show that 54 percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who got killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes were alcohol-impaired, Simken noted.
The Eustis Police Department is asking the residents of Central Florida, its visitors and tourists alike, to help support this law enforcement crack down on drunk driving “by reminding people that if they plan to drink, to never get behind the wheel,” Simken noted. “The consequences from impaired driving are deadly serious. Even if no one is killed, people who are caught driving impaired face jail time, loss of their driver licenses, and numerous financial consequences—such as attorney fees, higher insurance rates, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of their job.”
Even worse, he said: these accidents could claim the lives of innocent victims, including possibly a member of your own family.
“Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk, so do not take the chance,” he noted. “Please remember, law enforcement will be out in force, so ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ or we will catch and arrest you because we are going to save lives.
“It is your choice,” he added, “but it is our duty.”

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