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San Rafael Police Department

San Rafael Police Department

Public Health Alert

For Immediate Release

Author: Sergeant Justin Graham #494
Date: October 26, 2020 8:30 AM

This Halloween, and Every Day, Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

San Rafael, CA — Halloween night historically is celebrated by millions of Americans each year, with eager young children looking forward to an evening of trick-or-treating and adults working on costumes and their Monster Mash skills.

However, Halloween this year will be different since it is occurring during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Marin County Public Health discourages many activities associated with Halloween, such as parties, large gatherings, and trick-or-treating.  Even with the ongoing Pandemic, it is recognized that this year’s holiday falls on a Saturday, and there will likely be a few 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 San Rafael Police Department to remind everyone of the dangers of drunk driving. Halloween poses an especially dangerous threat to pedestrians who may be in less visible costumes and attire. 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 p.m. October 31 – 5:59 a.m. November 1). According to NHTSA, 41% 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%) of fatalities in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2018.

“Even while we are still dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, Halloween will be during a Saturday, which means people will likely try and gather and perhaps drink.   It is important that we abide by the Marin County Public Health Order and the additional recommendations established for Halloween throughout the weekend.  If you still decide to celebrate, every single person should plan their sober ride home in advance,” said Sergeant Justin Graham. “Even one drink can impair judgment. 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% (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.

“We want our community and families to enjoy Halloween, but also to stay safe, healthy, and make responsible choices,” said Chief of Police Diana Bishop. “In today’s world, there are many options available for drivers to help them get home safely if they have been drinking. We expect drivers to refrain from driving after drinking,” she said.

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.

Have a Safe and Healthy 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 is 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 drunk driver on the road, contact the San Rafael Police Department by dialing 9-1-1.
  • Do you have a friend or family member who is about to drink and drive?  Take the keys and make arrangements to get your friend and family home safely.
  • With this year’s Halloween occurring during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Marin County Public Health is discouraging parties, gatherings of 12 or more, and trick-or-treating. 
  • Marin County Public Health also states that alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to COVID-19 infection because it impairs judgment to properly uphold personal protection measures.
  • Additionally, Marin County Public Health says that regardless of how you choose to celebrate, wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash and sanitize your hands regularly, outdoors is safer for gatherings, minimize mixing with people outside your family and social bubble (no more than 12 people), and stay home if you are sick or you are in a high-risk group.

Always remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

# # #

Posted: October 26, 2020 8:28 PDT by Sergeant Justin Graham #494

Updated: October 27, 2020 5:59 PDT by Alex Holm

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