RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Glenn Youngkin has partnered with several state agencies to make the roads safer.
A coalition of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Highway Safety Office, Virginia-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), law enforcement agencies and medical professionals have launched the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
“It’s a lot more than a slogan,” Youngkin said. “It’s the life of a Virginian that could be put at risk.”
Throughout Labor Day weekend and the 2022 holiday season, law enforcement will place a special focus on deterring drunk drivers and preventing alcohol-related crashes.
Formerly known as Checkpoint Strikeforce, the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is in its 21st year and is expected to help save lives.
According to Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Gary Settle, state troopers arrested 59 intoxicated drivers on Labor Day last year.
“Last Labor Day, fatal crashes were half of what they were in 2020,” Settle said. “Because one traffic fatality is too many, I challenge Virginians to achieve zero fatal traffic crashes this holiday weekend.”
In 2021, Settle said, 15,988 people were convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia. This is more than the population of Williamsburg, according to the 2020 census.
Settle said this number is a 14% increase in convictions from 2020 to 2021.
According to Settle, 67.7% of those convicted of driving under the influence last year were male drivers, aged 21 to 35. For this reason, the 2022 campaign will be laser-focused on this demographic.
“As we head into Labor Day weekend, and if you find yourself in a quick discussion with anybody, remind them that they have to drive sober or they will get pulled over,” Youngkin said. “If they happen to be in this targeted group of 21 to 35-year-olds, let’s just remind them that if you’re old enough to drink, act like it.”
Drivers can expect more police checkpoints and saturation patrols on the roads. 92 law enforcement agencies will reportedly be participating in the first wave of this campaign.
“If knowing this makes one driver decide after taking a few drinks not to drive, then we have done our job,” Settle said.
The increase in patrols is set to begin on Sept. 2 and last until Labor Day.
Drivers should expect this again near Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Years as data shows those holidays are heavily traveled by DUI drivers.