(Columbus Dispatch photo by James D. DeCamp)
(Columbus Dispatch photo by James D. DeCamp)

Ask any local cops and you’ll hear that they’re on the lookout for drunk drivers 24/7/365. The days of a wink and a nod and “take it home easy, buddy” have long since disappeared from law enforcement lexicon for drunk driving.

But there are several times each year when both locally and nationwide, police gather to say they’re making a special push to catch drivers who have had too much to drink. Now through Labor Day is one of them, a concerted effort announced this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When acting NHTSA administrator David Friedman stood up to announce the push he was flanked with the usual array of uniformed law enforcement officers, all of them from D.C. and the surrounding communities.

NHTSA acting head David Friedman. (NHTSA photo)
NHTSA acting head David Friedman. (NHTSA photo)

Data compiled by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program shows that 17,965 people were arrested for driving under the influence in 2012 in the Washington region. NHTSA’s national statistics show that a drunk driver kills someone every 51 minutes.

“It’s an unceasing procession of deaths, every single one of them preventable,” Friedman said, announcing that more than 10,000 law enforcement agencies will join in the annual crack down this summer. “If you drive drunk, they will find you. They will arrest you. You will be prosecuted, and there will be serious and costly consequences for having risked others’ lives.