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Central Jersey will be Targeting Drunk Drivers over Holiday Weekend by Michael Deak

CENTRAL JERSEY — Thanksgiving Eve has evolved into one of the liveliest party nights of the year. With people returning to to their hometowns, it’s a time for reunions with friends before getting together with families for Thanksgiving dinner the next day. That’s one of the reasons why Domino’s, in a news release, said that Thanksgiving Eve is one of its busiest days of the year, delivering more than 1.1 million pizzas across the country. That’s also one of the reasons why many police departments throughout Central Jersey will be holding sobriety checkpoints to not only target drunken drivers, but also to raise the public’s awareness of the dangers of drunken driving during the holiday season.

Central Jersey police departments will be stepping up their efforts to combat drunken driving through the New Year’s weekend as part of the state’s "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" campaign. "This is a critical law enforcement program that can save lives during a time of the year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent," said Piscataway police Chief Rick Ivone. Besides stepping up patrols, many police departments have announced they will be conducting checkpoints on Wednesday evening, but not releasing where they will be.

The Bridgewater Police Department, for example, will be conducting a checkpoint at an undisclosed location, while Long Hill police has announced the department will be holding a checkpoint from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. in the area of Valley and River roads in the Millington section of the township. In Somerset County, efforts have been expanded beyond DWI checkpoints.

EmPoWeR Somerset, along with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and the Somerset County Association of Chiefs of Police have joined forces for a multiprong Thanksgiving Eve effort that includes checkpoints, additional patrols, and undercover police in local shops and establishments. According to the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety, in 2009, 185people were killed in New Jersey in alcohol-related accidents. That was 31 percent of the state’s 583 traffic deaths in 2009.

Authorities remind drivers that they can dial #77 on their cell phones to report a suspected drunken driver.

Michael Deak: 908-243-6611 mdeak@MyCentralJersey.com