FORT HUACHUCA, AZ -- The Fourth of July is celebrated by friends and families nationwide. It's a time for Americans to fire up the barbecue, hoist the flag and grab a seat for that spectacular fireworks display. But before you head out for the celebrations, make sure you plan for a sober way home. Law enforcement at Fort Huachuca and in the local area are taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign during the Fourth of July holiday period, June 29-July 5, to put an end to drunk driving. In support of law enforcement's dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, you'll see increased enforcement on the roads with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.

During the 2017 Fourth of July holiday period (6 p.m. June 30 to 5:59 a.m. July 5), 237 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. These deaths accounted for 39 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic crashes that occurred over the holiday period. The deaths also represent a 23-percent increase from 2016, during which 192 people were killed during the same holiday period. That's 237 families who will forever remember Independence Day with a heavy heart and nightmarish memories.

We want to be very clear about the consequences of drunk driving, in every state in this country, drunk driving is illegal. It's also incredibly deadly, and a risk we don't want to see people take. Make no mistake: If you are caught drinking and driving, you will be pulled over and arrested. Driving under the influence of any substance will land you a DUI.

According to NHTSA, drunk driving accounted for 29 percent (10,874) of motor vehicle traffic crash-induced deaths in 2017. With Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars will be on the roads. The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes is higher at night. During the 2017 July 4th holiday period, of the 237 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, 79 percent (187) of the alcohol-impaired fatalities occurred during nighttime hours (6 p.m.--5:59 a.m.).

"Sadly, many people think driving impaired is a joke or a challenge, the consequences are serious," said Adrian Galindo, law enforcement operations officer, Directorate of Emergency Services. "If we catch you driving under the influence of alcohol, we will arrest you, and you'll receive a DUI. That DUI will follow you throughout your life. Under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you've been drinking. Doing so endangers you, and everyone on the road with you. If you're heading to Fourth of July parties this summer, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."

This should not come as a surprise to drivers in this country: In most states, it is illegal to drive with a BAC over .08. But since people aren't getting it, and since thousands of people are still dying as a result of this behavior year after year, we will be patrolling over the holiday season and we will accept absolutely zero excuses.

Celebrate with a Plan

This Fourth of July, Fort Huachuca's Directorate of Emergency Services and NHTSA urge drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the evening. If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving.

Remember these tips for a safe night on the roads:

• Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you've had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
• Download NHTSA's SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple's iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user's location so he or she can be picked up.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, dial 9-1-1 or contact the Military Police Station at 533-3000.
• Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

The Costs of Drunk Driving

Drinking and driving is dangerous, even if you're "just buzzed." When you drive impaired, you risk your life and safety, and the lives and safety of those riding with you and around you. Does mortality not get your attention? Maybe money will: A DUI arrest could cost you up to $10,000, not to mention the loss of your vehicle and driver's license. You could face jail time, higher insurance rates, and hefty expenses from attorney's fees, fines, car towing and repairs, and lost time at work. Imagine trying to explain that to your family, friends, or employer.

This Fourth of July, commit to only driving 100-percent sober. Don't lose your independence on Independence Day, and don't be a deadly risk to yourself and other innocent people. Remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.