Virginia launches 20th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI enforcement, public education campaign

Virginia News
17th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce

(WFXR) — A DUI enforcement and public education campaign is back to help keep drunk drivers off the roads. Checkpoint Strikeforce is celebrating 20 years of partnering with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Lake Research Partners conducted a survey of Virginia drivers and found that, in the last year, 90 percent of men said they drove after having a few drinks or were driven by someone who had been drinking. The survey targeted men between the ages of 21 and 35 because the demographic group was statistically at the highest risk for drunk driving.

“It is great news that restaurants are open again and everyone is eager to celebrate, but let’s all remember to do so safely and take care of each other,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “The tireless efforts of Checkpoint Strikeforce over the past 20 years have been critical in reminding Virginians of the importance of getting a safe ride after drinking. This year, as they have for the last two decades, Checkpoint Strikeforce will help keep drunk drivers off the road and save the lives of countless Virginians.”

Last year, approximately 32-percent of Virginia’s traffic fatalities involved from alcohol-related crashes. In Roanoke alone, there were 785 alcohol-related crashes of which 741 were injuries and 55 were fatalities. Of the fatalities reported from alcohol-related crashes, the majority of them were men.

In addition, 14,105 people were convicted of a DUI in the Commonwealth in 2020.

“Drunk driving-related injuries can be devastating for not just the driver but innocent people on the roadways. Treating injuries begins by preventing them from happening in the first place and we need everyone in the community to play a role in preventing impaired driving,” said Dr. Michel B. Aboutanos, who serves as medical director of VCU Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center, as well as VCU’s Injury & Violence Prevention Program.

During the Labor Day holiday last year, there were 20 crash fatalities in Virginia, seven of which were alcohol-related. The report showed three were drivers between the ages of 21 to 35.

Meanwhile, Virginia state troopers arrested 55 drunk drivers during that 2020 holiday weekend, averaging one DUI arrest every 104 minutes.

The first wave of the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign runs from Friday, Aug. 20 through Labor Day weekend, with 128 law enforcement agencies participating. Law enforcement is planning to conduct 559 individual patrols and 74 checkpoints across the Commonwealth. The campaign will then resume throughout the 2021 winter holiday season.

In addition, Virginia State Police will participate in Operation CARE — the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort — from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 3 through midnight on Monday, Sept. 6. This safety program aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use occupant restraints.

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