As people across Virginia prepare to have one last hurrah this summer, law enforcement officers are gearing up for a long weekend on the lookout for drunk drivers. According to WAVY, Virginia State Police, along with nearly 200 other state agencies, are ramping up their efforts to crack down on driving under the influence as a part of Checkpoint Strikeforce. The long holiday weekend will be marked by increased patrols and DUI checkpoints.
Typically, Labor Day weekend has at least ten traffic fatalities, about a third of which are due to drunk drivers. Last year, drunk driving took the lives of 262 people on Virginia roads. So far in 2017, there has been an eight percent increase in fatalities caused by drunk driving. This is a reverse from a declining number of fatal accidents in 2014 and 2015. Law enforcement is working diligently to put a stop to these preventable deaths through Checkpoint Strikeforce, and 2016 saw more than 19,000 convictions for DUI. The program specifically attempts to target those drivers statistically most likely to drive while intoxicated, which is men between 21 and 35 years of age.
As WTVR reports, getting convicted of a DUI in Virginia carries penalties including suspension of driver’s license or jail time up to one year, fines up to $2,500 and the installation of an ignition interlock device on the driver’s car. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that this year’s Checkpoint Strikeforce is the 16th of its kind, intended to protect the nearly 1 million Virginians who are expected to be on the roads and highways over Labor Day weekend.