State gears up for DUI enforcement push

 

DOVER — Just hours after police made yet another felony drunken driving arrest in Kent County, state officials announced the latest push for extra DUI enforcement that begins today.

According to court documents Benjamin E. Gommer, 46, of the first block of Grissom Street in Dover, was charged with an alleged fourth DUI of alcohol offense on Wednesday, the fifth felony case overall in Kent County since Aug. 9.

Benjamin E. Gommer

Benjamin E. Gommer

Two Smyrna residents and one each from Harrington and Clayton were arrested earlier, with a combined 16 DUI charges in their histories. The suspect from Harrington was charged with a seventh alleged drunken driving offense.

On Thursday, Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety said state law enforcement officers “will show zero tolerance for drunk driving” as part of a high-visibility “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” nationwide campaign in operation until Sept. 5.

“People need to understand that drunk driving is not only deadly, but it is illegal,” OHS Director Jana Simpler said in a news release.

“Drunk driving is a massive problem in the United States, with more than 10,000 people dying annually. If you see a driver that you suspect is drunk, call 911 when it is safe to do so.”

OHS officials described the upcoming Labor Day weekend as a particularly dangerous time to travel roadways as end of the summer celebrations often include alcohol and ensuing impaired driving.

Delaware’s OHS has partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bringing increased saturation patrols and messaging nationwide regarding the perils of drunken driving.

According to OHS, more than a dozen deaths in Delaware have been connected to impaired driving, and more than 1,800 DUI arrests made.

In 2014, officials said, 40 percent of Labor Day weekend fatal vehicle crashes involved drunk drivers; 83 percent of drunk driving fatals came between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m., compared to 50 percent the rest of the year.

“There are people who like to pretend that certain laws don’t apply to them, but just to be clear: in every state, for every person, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher,” Ms. Simpler said.

“During the enforcement period, there will be a special emphasis on drunk-driving enforcement. Local drivers should expect to see more patrol vehicles and increased messaging about the dangers of drunk driving.

“This is an unacceptable problem. Drunk driving is selfish and dangerous. We want to increase awareness with this campaign, but also see lasting results of decreased drunk driving,”

More information on the consequences of impaired driving are at arrivealivede.com or www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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