Hingham police will be cracking down on drunk driving this Labor Day by participating in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, funded by a grant from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Hingham's is one of 10,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide to participate in the event, previously known as the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest,” movement.
Officers hope the publicity surrounding the initiative will help dissuade drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, and that the grant money will help fund additional officers with the sole purpose of identifying and arresting intoxicated drivers.
“The primary focus will be OUI drunk driving, but officers could also look for aggressive driving, unsafe driving, and also respond to 911 calls of any sporadic driving,” said Sergeant Steven Dearth with the Hingham Police Department. “We’ll also be doing seatbelt checks as well, but the primary focus will be drunk driving.”
Hingham obtained $1,400 in grant money by applying to EOPSS, which will help fund 10 blocks of four-hour shifts for officers. Patrols will be put out during times and on streets where frequent OUI arrests or crashes have previously occurred, police said.
Additionally, some of the money will help fund a message board that will be set up on Route 228 during this crackdown as an additional effort to highlight the initiative.
It isn’t the first time Hingham police have stepped up to curtail drunk driving around Labor Day.
In 2009, a sobriety checkpoint held by Hingham Police and the State Police resulted in 12 drivers arrested for OUI in the course of three hours. In 2010, police also stepped up enforcement around Labor Day to curtail drunk driving, Dearth said.
This particular crackdown will run from Aug. 19 through Sept. 5, but police are reminding the public that removing drunk drivers from the road remains a priority year round.
“Every Hingham Police Officer has zero tolerance for drunk drivers”, said Police Chief Michael Peraino in a release. “They know firsthand, that for every drunk driver that’s taken off the streets, it’s potentially one less tragedy for some family.”
Although none of Hingham's traffic fatalities in the last three years - two in 2011, one in 2010, and none in 2009 - involved alcohol, the potential for serious harm is still there. It’s why Hingham Police have spent so much manpower on searching out drunk drivers, something that has seen significant success.
This year alone, police have arrested 57 drivers for operating under the influence, Hingham police said. By this time last year, Hingham Police had arrested 47 drunk drivers.
“It’s the aggressive enforcement and outreach we do. We do a lot of training for drunk driving enforcement … which hones skills in what to look for. So it is a public safety priority for us,” Dearth said.
According to Dearth, the last fatal drunk driving accident was in 1997.