Ocean County law enforcement still step up its efforts to combat drunk and drugged driving over Memorial Day weekend, authorities announced Thursday.
Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced the continuation of the office's annual countywide DWI checkpoint program, which this year will be expanded to include extra officers to specifically detect and target those who are driving under the influence of drugs.
"The tremendous added volume of summer shore traffic calls for increased vigilance by law enforcement, and that will be the focus over the coming months to keep motorists safe," Coronato said in a statement released Thursday morning.
While inattentive and aggressive drivers are always targets of regular patrols, Coronato said, the DWI checkpoints will specifically go after those who are driving impaired by a substance.
The program targets those under the influence of alcohol, but in response to Ocean County’s ongoing drug crisis, will also utilize the addition of two Drug Recognition Experts at each check point to detect those under the influence of narcotics, the statement said.
The county also oversees a county-wide call out system for drug experts to respond and assist agencies in conducting evaluations of people suspected to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of narcotics, the prosecutor said.
According to accident statistics provided by the prosecutor's office, impaired drivers were responsible for about a third of Ocean County's fatal accidents last year. In 2013 there were 51 fatal accidents in the county, the second-highest of any New Jersey county.
The checkpoint program is funded in part by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, Coronato said. Local officers will conduct the checkpoints in conjunction with detectives from the prosecutor's office and the Ocean County Sheriff's Department K9 unit.