Fatal crashes involving drunk drivers are up. More than 10,000 lives were lost in 2012, compared to 9,865 in 2011.
It's a reality check that transportation leaders and law enforcement want you to remember this holiday season. On Tuesday, they kicked off the annual 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled over' campaign.
January 1, 2012 at 2:15 a.m. It's a moment in time that Gene Gallagher will never forget.
"I cannot fully express the pain and loss of a daughter, who was just 18 years old," said Gallagher.
Our news cameras were at the scene one year ago on Jones Bridge Road, where Kaitlin Gallagher and another victim died after a drunk driver decided to get behind the wheel.
"It was a huge wake-up," said Miley Wickenden, Kaitlin's close friend.
"Every 54 minutes during the holiday season, drunk driving claims a life," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol-related crash fatalities go up this time of year. And over the past decade, two out of five deaths happened around Christmas and New Year's. So now through January 1, the crackdown is underway.
In Montgomery County, Police Officer Jeremy Smalley said, "We're bringing 10 or 15 officers on Fridays and Saturdays to specifically target DUI's and get drunk drivers off the roads."
And if the lesson isn't learned the first time around, transportation officials want ignition interlock devices to put the brakes on another bad decision.
"We think that every state should have a plan to have these interlocks installed for dangerous folks who have a history of drunk driving," said Foxx.
D.C., Maryland and Virginia all have some type of law in place using this technology.
Meanwhile, there's a separate campaign to curb drunk driving during the holidays. The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is sponsoring SoberRide through January 1.
Free rides are available from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for up to a $30 fare. The number to call: 1-800-200-TAXI.