The New Mexico State Police are planning to launch a drunk driving crackdown during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday period. An NMSP spokesperson said that sobriety checkpoints would be set up at known drunk driving hotspots and saturation patrols will be deployed during peak periods. During the Independence Day celebrations in 2018, police in Carlsbad cited 117 motorists for driving while intoxicated.
The law enforcement effort has likely been ordered because the Fourth of July is the deadliest drunk driving holiday of the year. According to data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, Fourth of July accidents caused by intoxicated drivers killed 1,192 people between 2010 and 2017. In 2017, the 237 drunk driving fatalities recorded by the agency accounted for 39% of the holiday period traffic deaths.
Higher traffic levels and good weather lead to a surge in drunk driving fatalities each summer, but the Independence Day celebrations are especially deadly. The FARS data reveals that road users are 57% more likely to die in a drunk driving crash on the Fourth of July than on comparable summer days, and the figures are particularly worrying when the holiday falls during the workweek. When the nation celebrates its birthday on a Saturday or Sunday, an average of 36.3 road users are killed each day during the holiday period. When the Fourth falls on a weekday, that figure rises to 43.4 fatalities per day.
Motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated in New Mexico face fines of up to $10,000 and lose their driving privileges, which could make paying restitution to their victims extremely difficult. When negligent drivers are incarcerated or lack the funds to pay damages, experienced personal injury attorneys could file car accident lawsuits against their insurance companies. Attorneys could also seek to attach liens to their vehicles or other assets.
Source: The Carlsbad Current Argus, Police looking for drunk drivers during Independence Day celebrations, Mike Smith, June 27, 2019 Source: NHTSA, This July 4th, Celebrate America Safely, Press release