FREEHOLD – The Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Task Force is adding a high-visibility vehicle to its arsenal of tools. The vehicle is expected to aid the task force in its campaign to save lives and root out drunk or impaired drivers in the county, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
The 2017 Ford Transit 350 Wagon with XL High Roof is intended to be a high-visibility warning to drivers that law enforcement across Monmouth County will be vigilant in its efforts to detect and eradicate drunken and otherwise impaired drivers.
“We have a very successful program in Monmouth County and we intend to build on that success. Anyone who lives in Monmouth County or comes to visit needs to know we take road safety seriously. Drunk or impaired driving is unacceptable. Those who break the law and put others at risk will be held accountable,” Gramiccioni said.
In the past five years, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office DWI Task Force has educated nearly 70,000 drivers during its weekly roadside operations. In 2016 alone, more than 41 roadside operations were conducted in 26 different municipalities resulting in 98 arrests and 370 summons issued.
“The task force will conduct its operations every week to supplement the round-the-clock efforts of law enforcement in every municipality in Monmouth County. Our team approach to the issue of drunk or impaired driving is making strides towards safer roads,” said Police Chief Michael Palmer, of the Brielle Police Department and the coordinator for the DWI Task Force.
Since the task force’s inception, almost 6,000 law enforcement officers from Monmouth County Police Departments have participated in the 269 roadside activities conducted by the DWI Task Force. The DWI checkpoints resulted in 525 DWI arrests, including the arrests of 72 people who refused to submit to breath tests. The task force also made 365 drug-related arrests and another 351 arrests for various other offenses, as well as issued summonses for 5,426 motor vehicle violations. Task force officers have also been responsible for the recovery of a stolen vehicle, seized guns, an out-of-state missing juvenile being located, and a heroin overdose victim being provided with first aid.
“Drunk drivers jeopardize the lives and safety of innocent people every time they get behind the wheel. The Monmouth County DWI Task Force has a program in place that is a model for educating the motoring public about the dangers of drinking and driving and apprehending those under the influence. We are pleased to be able to support the task force’s efforts through these grant funds,” according to Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
The new vehicle is the result of collaborative efforts between the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Police Chief’s Association and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (NJDHTS). A $24,000 grant from NJDHTS was supplemented with a $6,415 infusion from the Prosecutor’s Office’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund to pay for the $30,415 vehicle. The Police Chief’s Association provided funding for the paint scheme and accessories to outfit the vehicle for its role as a high-visibility law enforcement tool during nighttime operations.
For nearly 30 years, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office has been involved in efforts to combat drunk and impaired driving and reduce fatalities by participating and funding sobriety checkpoints throughout the county. These checkpoints have served as a great educational tool, punitive measure and overall deterrent resulting in saving lives.
“We owe an enormous amount of gratitude to the Monmouth County police officers who give up their Friday nights to work the DWI checkpoints and help to educate the public on the perils of impaired driving. These dedicated men and women are working hard to ensure that everyone on the road arrives home safely at the end of their journey,” Chief Palmer added.
There has been a statewide decline in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving an intoxicated driver with a high of 150 in 2006 compared to 50 in 2015, according to the Uniform Crime Report issued by the New Jersey State Police.
Between 2001 and 2015, there were 9,126 fatal motor vehicle crashes statewide. Of the 9,126 fatal crashes the report reveals 2,267 were alcohol or drug-related. In Monmouth County over the same period there were 655 fatal crashes resulting in the death of 711 people. Of the 655 crashes in Monmouth County, 214 were alcohol or drug-related.
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