Law enforcement warns drivers to stay sober for 4th

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — State and local police officers and other local leaders have a warning for you if you’re getting behind the wheel this weekend: officers will be watching, and will catch you if you’re driving while intoxicated.

Standing shoulder to shoulder outside the Providence Public Safety Complex on Friday morning, the president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association (RIPCA) joined representatives from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and fellow officers in the launching of the weekend’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

AAA predicts the highest number of Americans making a road trip this weekend since 2007, with an estimated 34.8 million people set to pack up their cars.

Friday, the RISP said deadly motor vehicle crashes are down 13 percent as of the end of June, compared to the same time last year.

“When law enforcement agencies partner together, they enhance their enforcement effort, increase the ability for impaired driver detection, and we all benefit from this partnership,” said Chief Brian Sullivan, the RIPCA president.

The association is launching its task force for the weekend thanks to federal money from the DOT.

But watchful eyes of law enforcement can’t do it all. It starts with riders, said Gabrielle Abbate, the RIDOT Chief of Highway Safety (and past Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Rhode Island).

“Buckle up. We are begging the public to buckle up,” she said. “That is your final defense against a drunk driver in many cases.

“And stay safe. And make the right decisions. And sometimes you have to make those decisions for the people that you live with or the people that are visiting you,” Abbate said.

“If you have been drinking, don’t drive. If your friends or relatives have been drinking, don’t drive,” added Capt. Jeffrey Allen of the Rhode Island State Police.

The statewide task force started in Southern Rhode Island last year, and has expanded statewide. The officers will be spread out throughout the holiday weekend.

The state police estimate one-third of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involve alcohol.