August 15, 2014 | Number of The Day

Be careful behind the wheel this Labor Day weekend. The state is cracking down on drunk drivers with a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which will run from now through Labor Day.

The Division of Highway Traffic Safety has issued 195 grants of $5,000 each to enable towns to set up checkpoints and saturation patrols between today and Labor Day. In addition, 300 other communities are expected to participate in the campaign unfunded.

Traditionally, Labor Day weekend sees the traffic fatalities of the entire year. In 2012, there were 147 traffic fatalities in New Jersey over Labor Day weekend.

As a point of comparison, on average there is a drunken-driving fatality every 51 minutes in New Jersey. On Labor Day weekend, that jumps to every 34 minutes, most of which occur at night.

This will be the second year of the crackdown. Last year, police made 1,365 arrests during the campaign. They also issued 5,610 citations for spending, 4,153 seatbelt violations, 3,563 violations for driving with a suspended license and 936 tickets for reckless driving. Nearly 1,800 fugitives were apprehended during the campaign.

Penalties for a first DWI arrest can include fines of up to $500, 30 days in jail, one-year driver’s license suspension and court costs. Successive DWI arrests carry stiffer penalties.