Alcohol-related Deaths Up Along NJ Roads
Alcohol-related fatalities increased by 21% on New Jersey's roads in 2021, compared to the year prior, according to the latest data from the New Jersey State Police.
The number of deceased drivers who had consumed alcohol prior to their crash increased by close to 25%, and the number of fatal accident victims above the legal limit increased by nearly 23%, finds NJSP's 2021 report on fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Out of the nearly 900 drivers involved in fatal crashes (deceased and survivors) on Garden State roadways in 2021, a little more than half were tested for alcohol, the report notes. Positive results were recorded for 150 of them, and more than three-quarters of this group presented a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.
Overall, driving while intoxicated was listed as a contributing factor in 210 of New Jersey's 667 deadly crashes in 2021. There were 228 people killed as a result of those crashes — from innocent pedestrians to the drivers themselves.
"The people who drive drunk may not always believe they're impaired," said Steve Benvenisti, chairman of the board for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Now a personal injury attorney in Teaneck, decades ago Benvenisti was struck as a pedestrian by a repeat-offender drunk driver. He was in a coma for several days and spent months in the hospital to recover.
"What breaks my heart as an attorney ... is that the people I represent are usually the innocent victims of another driver who was driving drunk or driving after consuming drugs," Benvenisti said.
Benvenisti encourages individuals to follow a simple rule: If I have a drink, I'm not going to drive.
According to the NJSP report, more than a third of the pedestrians involved in fatal crashes who were tested for alcohol tested positive, along with a handful of bicyclists.
According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, New Jersey police departments recorded approximately 28,000 tickets for driving while intoxicated in 2021. That number was higher than 35,000 in 2019. These figures include offenses for refusing to take a breathalyzer.