Berrien County Sheriff Beefing Up Halloween Patrols This Weekend

The popularity of Halloween continues to soar year after year as parents who recall the great fun of that night when they were kids get as much fun out of the night as their own children do. With Halloween falling on a Saturday this week, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey and his department are planning to be out in force to help keep everyone safe.

The Sheriff has announced his unit’s 2020 Halloween Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving Enforcement Campaign.

With Halloween night celebrated by millions of Americans each year, and eager young children looking forward to an evening of trick-or-treating, and adults working on costumes and their Monster Mash skills, they want everyone to play it safe.

This year’s holiday falls on a Saturday, this coming Saturday, which means there will likely be more parties than usual —and more drunk drivers on the streets. To help spread the message that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office to remind everyone of the dangers of drunk driving.

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Halloween poses an especially dangerous threat to pedestrians, as more people are out at night on the hunt for candy. If your night involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. Remember: It’s never safe to drink and drive.

Between 2014 and 2018, there were 145 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 pm October 31st – 5:59 am November 1st). According to NHTSA, 41-percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2014 to 2018 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Adults between the ages of 21 and 34 had the highest percentage (39-percent) of fatalities in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2018.

Sheriff Paul Bailey says, “With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, we’re certain to see extra parties throughout the weekend, and every single partygoer should plan their sober ride home in advance.” He cautions, “Even one drink can impair judgement. You should never put yourself, or others, at risk because you made the selfish choice to drink and drive. Even one drink can be one too many. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”

Tragically, 36,560 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018, and 29-percent (10,511) of those fatalities occurred in crashes during which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08.

Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians — whether they be children trick-or-treating or adults who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office will be dedicating extra deputies and patrols this Friday October 30th, and Saturday October 31st, in an attempt to keep pedestrians and drivers safe.

Bailey says, “We want our communities to have a fun night out on Halloween, but to also stay safe and make responsible choices,” and adds, “In today’s world, there are many options available to drivers to help them get home safely if they have been drinking. We expect drivers to refrain from driving after drinking,”

Nationally, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher — no exceptions. And the costs can be financial, too: If you’re caught drinking and driving, you could face jail time, lose your driver’s license and your vehicle, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, car towing, higher insurance rates, and lost wages.

Party with a Plan

If you plan to head out for a night of Halloween partying, follow these simple tips for a safe and happy evening:

  • Remember that it’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
  • If you see a suspected drunk driver on the road, please contact the Berrien County Dispatch Center.
  • Do you have a friend, who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
  • Always remember “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”