As part of the US law enforcement's attempts to crack down on drunk driving, Virginia State Police are stepping up patrols to avoid accidents caused by drunk drivers.
The anti-DUI (Driving under the influence) crackdown is part of both the state and national enforcement operations conducted annually during the holidays, focusing on the dangers of drunk driving that takes hundreds of US lives every year. This year's enforcement measures started on December 13 and will continue through the New Year's Day,
"With the help of our law enforcement partners, we're sending a message across the country, today and throughout the holiday season - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a press release when the drive began. "And this year, with the release of our model guidelines for ignition interlock programs, we're helping states improve their efforts to enforce safe driving among convicted offenders, which is crucial to ending these unnecessary deaths."
The state police troopers in Virginia will stage increased DUI patrols and remain vigilant in local DUI checkpoints through-out the evening and overnight on 31 December.
A preliminary report from 30 December indicates that more than 720 people have lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia highways alone this year. The 'drive sober or get pulled over' website says that more than 10,000 people die on the US roads due to drunk driving every year. The police crackdown initiatives are thus aimed at preventing people from driving under the influence of alcohol in the US towns and cities.
"And they'll see you before you see them," the website warns.
Chris Fraham from the Augasta Free Press writes: "There's nothing wrong with enjoying yourself at a party. What is wrong is having an impaired driver making the improper choice to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. If you're going to drink, then designate a sober driver in advance to get you home safely, call a taxi, take advantage of public transportation, or simply stay put. Whatever you do, don't drink and drive".
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the enforcement comes at a time when there is an increase in people's tendancy to drink. Over the past decade, almost two of every five deaths that occured during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, were under the influence of alcohol.
"It is unacceptable and downright offensive that anyone would get behind the wheel drunk, let alone at twice the legal limit," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, when the enforcement began.
The crackdown is supported by $7.5 million in a national advertising in TV and radio, with advertisements featuring NHTSA's 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign.