With a corn maze as a backdrop, Berks County law enforcement officers warned motorists Friday not to drive drunk or impaired on Halloween, noting that it is one of the most deadly nights on the highways.
“DUI remains a problem in 2020,” Sgt. David M. Bentz, Berks County coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement program, said during a press conference at Wilcox Farms on South Reading Avenue in Douglass Township
“We continue to make DUI arrests, and law enforcement is going to target these drivers in the next two weeks to get them off the roads to make the roads safer for our motoring public.”
Police are ramping up patrols in anticipation of lots of trick-or-treaters walking on the roads and people hosting small parties during Halloween weekend.
They are asking motorists to stay off the roads if they are impaired from drinking, smoking marijuana, taking drugs, including prescriptions, or any sleep medication.
“We like to tell people, if you feel different, you will drive differently,” Bentz said.
“Halloween is a challenging night for law enforcement,” he said. “Our game plan hasn’t changed because of the coronavirus.”
Bentz said that party hosts should collect keys and have designated drivers drive anyone who is drunk or impaired home. He noted that calling an Uber or Lyft driver for a ride home is also an option.
Douglass Township Police Chief John Dzurek said agencies across Berks County are working to keep all resident safe this Halloween by keeping drunk and impaired drivers off the roads.
“Let’s keep Halloween and every day safe and sober,” Dzurek said.
The event was part of a U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Safety Administration campaign, “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,” to spread the message to make Halloween a happy memory, not a tragic nightmare. It was hosted by the Berks County DUI Task Force.
The highway administration provided these statistics about Halloween night:
- From 2014 to 2018, there were a total of 145 people killed in drunken driving crashes.
- In 2018, there were 13 vehicle occupants and two pedestrians killed, and adults between the ages of 21 and 34 had the highest percentage of fatalities.
- DUI could cost $10,000 in attorney fees, fines, higher insurance and towing fees.
During the pandemic, police officers are following the guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
They are routinely taking photographs of driver's licenses during traffic stops instead of touching the licenses.
Steve Schultz, owner of the Wilcox Farms, said the business was happy to host the police to get the message out to the community for safe driving.
He said that community groups and families are just getting out to visit the farm, which features a corn maze, hayrides and a country store.