Following an earlier push this summer cracking down on drunk drivers, Evesham Township in South Jersey has just unveiled an innovative new plan to reduce the number of drunken driving fatalities in the township. ‘Evesham Saving Lives’, as the program is aptly named, proposes to offer free rides to all Evesham residents from local bars and restaurants back to their homes.
Catalyst: In 2009, an Evesham teenager named Shawn English was killed in a terrible accident after being struck by a drunk driver. It shook the township, and the police department, who have been working to combat the issue ever since. Particularly affected was Evesham Police Chief Christopher Chew, who was one of the first responders to reach the site of the crash. The driver convicted of killing 19-year-old English received an 8 year prison sentence and had driving privileges revoked for life.
Scope of the Problem: In numbers provided by Police Chief Chew, the department has arrested over 1,050 people for driving while intoxicated, an average of about 190 DUI arrests a year. They’re on pace to reach 220 DUI arrests this year, majorly because of the increased police presence in this area. While the mayor is happy to be getting those drivers off the roads, all members of the partnership hope that those numbers will one day be a distant memory. There hasn’t been a fatality tied to drunken driving since the death of English in 2009.
Program Partners: Along with the Evesham police department, the Evesham Saving Lives Program is starting as a pilot with the backing of several key township groups, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Marlton Business Association, Sober Sam, and the Evesham Celebrations Foundation. Sober Sam will be operating a series of shuttles, as well as providing discounts to non-Evesham residents who would also like to avail of their services.
Their Goals: According to Evesham Mayor Randy Brown, the hope is to one day eliminate all Evesham residents driving while intoxicated. He calls their initiative ‘groundbreaking’, and has high expectations for its success. The township had earlier this summer been pushing to enforce DUIs more heavily, and the ride home program is a natural extension of those goals. As a side benefit, the program may also benefit local Evesham businesses, as it does not discourage residents from enjoying the bar and residents, rather provides a healthy and safe venue for them to do so.
Using the Program: Starting Labor Day weekend, the Evesham Saving Lives program was provided as a 30 day pilot, as of October 15th the trial will be extended through the beginning of the New Year. Residents can access information regarding pickup times and their locations via the Evesham Township Police Department app for both Apple and Android smartphones. The app also provides other valuable information regarding Evesham Saving Lives and other township police information for residents. The free shuttles will be available at nine local bars and restaurants, with the possibility of adding additional locations as the program grows.
The consequences of a DWI conviction are severe, as is the risk posed by driving drunk. If you need a lawyer to represent you for such a charge, call the office of Robert E. DePersia II at 856-795-9688 to learn more.