DUI Task Force forms to combat DUI issues

November 24, 2004

In an ongoing effort aimed at reducing driving under the influence (DUI) within the south-central Pennsylvania area, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania DUI Association, county sobriety checkpoint coordinators, the Penn State Shock Trauma Center at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and local law enforcement officials have joined together to create the Southcentral Pennsylvania Regional DUI Task Force.

At a press conference held Monday, Nov. 22, at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, members of the task force explained a more regionalized approach to raise public awareness on DUI enforcement and the dangers of drinking and driving.

Robert Cherry, medical director, Penn State Shock Trauma, said that the staff at the center provides expert care for injured adults and children. By joining the task force, however, the staff can partner with others to be equally committed to preventing alcohol-related injuries. Over the past 18 months, there were 344 patients with a positive blood-alcohol level seen at the trauma center. The majority of those patients were injured in motor-vehicle crashes or after falling. Alcohol-related injuries affect all ages -- patients who tested positive ranged from 15 to 85 years of age. Cherry also cautioned that when individuals choose to drink and drive, not only are they more likely to be severely injured, but many others such as family and friends can be affected by their actions.

At the Penn State Shock Trauma Center, all trauma patients older than 16 years of age are tested for alcohol and substance abuse for the potential impact on treatment. Impaired drivers are reported to the Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing as mandated of physicians under the law.

"We all have the same goal, whether we are safety officials, law enforcement or part of the medical community," said Fritzi Schreffler, safety press officer for PennDOT District 8. "We need to send a message to the public that choosing to drink and drive is not a safe option and that we will do what is necessary to drastically reduce the number of injuries and fatalities we see each year."

The task force is offering these tips in advance of the upcoming holiday season: Promise family, friends, coworkers and most importantly to yourself to NEVER drive after you have been drinking; designate one person in your group who will not drink any alcohol and will drive everyone home; do not let a friend drive if he or she has been drinking -- call a taxi or get a nondrinking friend to do the driving; be sure to have plenty of food and nonalcoholic drinks available at parties, plan a variety of activities to keep the focus off drinking, watch your guests for signs of intoxication and never let a guest drive if he or she has been drinking; remember, impairment begins with the first drink; make sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up; and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is always looking for volunteers to help stop drunk driving -- call (717) 657-3911 for more information.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009