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Always Aware: Dec. is DUI Awareness Month

Always Aware DUI awareness month

In Pennsylvania last year, there were nearly 6,000 wrecks from Thanksgiving to New Year's, many of them because of impaired driving.

December is National Drunk Driving and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and we want you to be always aware.

It's the time of the year where more drivers are getting behind the wheel, heading to stores or visiting with friends and family. It also means more police on the roads cracking down on folks impaired by drugs or alcohol.

"Not only do we have checkpoints, we do have extra patrols doing DUI roving, which simply means that they drive around patrolling for any impaired drivers," explained State Police Trooper Megan Richards.

In 2012, 10,322 people died in drunk-driving crashes; that's one life every 51 minutes. And the wrecks spike around the holidays.

"We're just trying to keep everyone safe so they can get home to their families," added Richards.

Most people understand that driving over the legal limit can get them arrested, but they need to consider how many drinks are safe and how long after drinking it is safe to drive.

"They may not understand just how much alcohol is in a particular drink that might only be a few ounces," shared Brian Downs with The Lehigh Valley DUI Highway Safety Taskforce.

Drugged driving is also a growing problem. Research shows it may be responsible for more than 20% of crashes. And that includes pills prescribed by your doctor.

"A lot of people don't necessarily consider prescription pills drugs," Richards said. "But if they're either not prescribed to you or if you're taking them when you are not prescribed to be driving or supposed to be driving, it is under the influence."

More than 1.2 million drivers were arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Officials say if you see someone impaired on the roads call 911.

"Think about your safety and the safety of everybody else over the holiday," Downs added. "And make sure you enjoy it in a responsible way."

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