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Are Stiffer Penalties Reducing New Jersey DWIs?

The penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey get harsher and harsher, but some observers don't think the numbers of DWI arrests are dropping fast enough in response. reports that last year fewer motorists were arrested for driving while impaired by alcoholthan at any time in the past decade. Still, the decline represented only a three percent drop from the numbers from the previous year.

In 2009, there were 27,838 DWI arrests, according to the New Jersey State Police.

This year, the State Police will be working with local police departments across the state in the annual holiday crackdown on drunk driving. The departments have been waging PR campaigns, spot checks of drunk driving and more during the seasonal crackdowns conducted since 1999.

Statistics show that across the nation, DWI arrests rise with the onset of Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. That's why the federal government has offered financial incentives to police departments to increase drunk driving patrols and to try to make citizens aware of the dangers and penalties for drinking and driving.

In Bergen and Passaic counties, the federal grant money helps pay for 3,000 extra hours of DWI patrols between December 6 and January 2.

Last year, there were 300 arrests in the North Jersey area between those dates.

Law enforcement officials urge people going to holiday parties or hosting holiday parties to follow a few simple guidelines so that everyone can enjoy the season safely:

  • Never drink and drive. If you're going to a holiday party, designate a sober driver to take you and your friends home.
  • If you're hosting a party, be sure to tell your guests to designate sober drivers for their rides home. Also be sure to serve beverages without alcohol for those designated drivers.
  • Be extra cautious when driving. Snow and ice makes streets more hazardous.

Source: "Penalties aren't reducing DWIs": December 21, 2010