RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia DMV are joining with state and local police to kick off the 17th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign. 

Checkpoint Strikeforce describes the period of increased enforcement to combat the rise in drunk driving deaths during Labor Day weekend. It will take place from August 17 through Labor Day weekend, and resume periodically during holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve.

“Virginia is a leader in traffic safety and the work of Checkpoint Strikeforce is a critical part of our efforts,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “While we have continued to reduce the amount of fatalities on our roads, those statistics are cold comfort to the families who have lost loved ones to drunk driving. The work we do over the next few months will be to save lives—plain and simple.”

In 2017, 248 people lost their lives as a result of drinking-related incidents—which was almost 30% of all traffic fatalities. Another 18,701 people were convicted of a DUI in the Commonwealth and during last year’s Labor Day weekend alone, Virginia roads saw 703 alcohol-impaired traffic injuries. Checkpoint Strikeforce is the crucial joint effort between public and private partners that works to stop these fatalities through a surround-sound persuasion campaign and high-visibility enforcement to remind likely offenders to get a safe ride home.

“We take driving under the influence very seriously here in the state of Virginia,” said State Police Superintendent Col. Gary Settle. “And offenders need to know the possible risks. It’s not light. It’s not meant to be light.” 

Partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization, approximately 89 law enforcement agencies—including local and Virginia State Police—will operate 94 checkpoints and 612 saturation patrols from August 17 through September 3, 2018.

“Nearly four-out-of-ten persons killed in drunk driving crashes in the Commonwealth last year were ages 18-35. Those are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters—all gone before their time,” said Col. Settle. “Troopers and other law enforcement professionals are on the roads everyday with the goal of protecting Virginians, and that solemn duty will be front-of-mind during the upcoming high-visibility periods.”

Checkpoint Strikeforce is sponsoring an advertisement which will reach the target audience through a campaign called “Act Like It.” It reminds viewers that drinking and driving is irresponsible—if you’re old enough to drink, act like it, and get a safe ride home.