Officials team to make roads safer for Halloween

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Impaired drivers, especially those under the legal drinking age, had better beware this Halloween, as PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police are teaming to increase law-enforcement patrols throughout the week.

“Many drivers under 21 don't realize that different rules and penalties apply to them if they are caught drinking and driving,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. “Putting people's lives in danger by getting behind the wheel while impaired is senseless and can result in tragedy. It's just not worth the cost.”

The legal blood-alcohol content in Pennsylvania is 0.08 for motorists over the age of 21. For underage drivers, the BAC limit is 0.02 percent. Penalties for a conviction can include jail time, license suspension and fines of between $500 and $5,000.

“No one should ever get behind the wheel when slightly impaired,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. “It's not a question of whether a person is legally intoxicated; it's a question of whether it is safe to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. It's also important for adults to understand that they can face heavy fines and jail time for supplying alcohol to minors.”

Adults, even parents, who are convicted of knowingly and intentionally supplying minors with alcohol are subject to a fine of at least $1,000 for the first offense and $2,500 for each additional offense, and face up to a year in jail.

The increased DUI patrols, which will include municipal police departments, will be funded in part with federal funds distributed through PennDOT. The extra patrols will continue through Nov. 1.

According to PennDOT data, in 2010 there were 1,241 crashes statewide involving at least one underage drinking driver. On Halloween last year, there were 322 crashes statewide, resulting in nine deaths. Of those crashes, 64 were alcohol related and accounted for six fatalities.

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