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Incidents Of Drunk Driving Increase During Holiday Season

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- It's a top priority safety item on that to do list for the holidays: drive sober. On average, there are 1,900 DUI arrests in December and police are on alert.

Pat Warren reports incidents of drunk driving increase leading up to Christmas and the New Year.

Two million Marylanders are expected on the road this Christmas and New Year season. Some of them will be impaired.

Impaired drivers kill 11 people and injure 218 on average on December.

One of the victims this month---a Montgomery County police officer---was killed by a drunk driver December 4.

"About a month ago, they arrested an individual who has a .33 blood alcohol level, which is four times the legal limit, and they're also arresting unfortunately too many repeat offenders," said Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. William Pallozzi.

If you haven't seen them already, reminders are lighting up highways---and police around the state will be pulling people over.

Some learn the hard way.

"Even though we put that message out there, so far this year, we've already arrested in the state this year over 6,700 drivers," Pallozzi said.

Joe Sykes has made driving sober a personal cause due to personal loss. His 15-year-old daughter was killed in a drunk driving accident with friends, despite repeated warnings.

"We were like all other parents. It was, `Never get in a car with a drunk driver or obviously do it yourself. Call us, we'll bring you home, no questions asked,'" he said.

But an unwillingness to heed the warning covers all ages and puts everyone on the road at risk.

"As much as we get the message out there, there's still much to be done. We just ask people to plan ahead. Have a plan when you go out if you know you're going to be drinking," Pallozzi said.

This year's safety effort is dedicated to the memory of Officer Noah Leotta. He was 24.

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