PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania State Police conducts a variety of enforcement initiatives throughout the year to help keep Pennsylvania roadways safe. Operation Nighthawk is one that focuses on getting impaired drivers off the road. As we prepare for the upcoming summer holidays, drivers are reminded that DUI is a serious crime.

This year, Operation Nighthawk is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The DUI enforcement detail combines municipal and regional law enforcement agencies with state police troopers throughout the area to focus on impaired drivers. The entire operation includes classroom instruction, motivational speakers, and current case law updates, followed by multiple nights of DUI roving patrol enforcement of a specific area.

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In 2021, the state police arrested nearly 19,000 drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and investigated nearly 5,000 DUI crashes.

In Pennsylvania, if a driver is suspected of being under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, a trooper will conduct a field sobriety test and, if necessary, summon a certified drug recognition expert (DRE) to conduct an assessment of the driver. DREs receive specialized training to distinguish the physiological signs of impairment caused by a wide range of controlled substances. In 2021, DREs conducted 1,107 evaluations.

Penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania vary and depend on several factors. The penalties may include thousands of dollars in fines and court costs, a possible license suspension, and even prison time.

There is no excuse as DUI is 100% preventable. Please designate a driver, use a rideshare program, take a cab, or make another plan to get home safely if your plans involve alcohol this summer season. Remember, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.