With the help of a state grant, the crackdown on Labor Day drinking has started early.
According to Hingham Police Sergeant Steven Dearth, police will step up drunk-driving enforcement starting tonight, with additional patrols, funded by a grant from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
“The grant will be used for additional officers to be on the road whose sole purpose is to identify and arrest all drunk drivers,” Dearth wrote in a release. “These patrols will be concentrating their efforts on specific days and times and on streets where frequent drunk driving arrests or crashes have been occurring.”
Hingham has hosted similar patrols in the past. During the Christmas period last year, increased patrols were put on the streets to discourage drunk driving in and around town.
A federal grant helped put additional patrols on the streets during Super Bowl weekend in February, as well as during the Thanksgiving holiday in November.
During the 2012 Labor Day enforcement, patrols turned up 106 traffic stops with 46 citations given – 36 were cited for speeding, one for a suspended license, three for driving without a license, one on an outstanding warrant, and one driving to endanger.
Additionally, several drivers were cited for excessive noise (spinning tires), following too close, failure to stay within marked lanes, and red light violations.
Other drivers were given oral warnings for marked lanes violations and defective equipment.
Only one driver was arrested for OUI alcohol.
Though Dearth was hopeful the 2013 efforts would follow similar suit, drunk-driving incidents this year have risen from previous years.
In 2013, Hingham Police have arrested 52 drivers for intoxicated driving. In the same period in 2012, 46 drivers were arrested.
Though arrests are up, drunk-driving crashes are down -- nine so far this year, compared with 12 in the same period last year.
“We would like to get the number of alcohol related crashes to zero,” said Dearth.
Hingham has had no fatal crashes so far in 2013. In 2012 there was one, and in 2011 there were two, though none involved alcohol.
Regardless of the accident and crash data, Dearth said the increased enforcement will be an added deterrent for drivers who might drink and get behind the wheel.
“We know the safest way to stop drunk driving to prevent it,” Dearth said.
More information about the Designated Driver Program including a list of participating restaurants in Hingham’s Designated Driver Program, can be found on the Hingham Police website.