Saturday, December 2, 2023

Virginia Launches Annual DUI Enforcement and Public Education Campaign

RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin kicked off Virginia’s 2023 Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over DUI enforcement and public education campaign Monday alongside law enforcement, medical professionals, and EMS responders.

The campaign is in its 22nd year and reminds Virginians of the consequences of impaired driving. An increased enforcement period for Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over will take place from Aug. 16 through the Labor Day holiday.

Last year, there were 6,910 alcohol-related crashes on Virginia roads resulting in 4,174 persons injured and 274 fatalities. The number of people killed increased 11% compared to 2021.

“The increase in drunk driving fatalities underscores how important it is to plan a safe ride home before you drink to protect your life and the lives of your fellow Virginians,” said Youngkin. “State and local law enforcement will be coordinating with the Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over campaign to put a stop to these tragedies before they happen.”

More than 150 Virginia law enforcement agencies will participate in the campaign through Labor Day, and a total of 476 individual saturation patrols and 100 sobriety checkpoints will be conducted across the Commonwealth.

“The Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over campaign reflects our collective commitment to stopping irresponsible, impaired driving and in turn, saving lives. We’re asking all Virginians to plan a safe ride home before drinking,” said Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Gerald Lackey.

The campaign uses public safety messages and high-visibility enforcement to keep impaired drivers off the road, reminding Virginians to get a safe ride home after drinking or face arrest.

The campaign is supported by new research from local partner Lake Research Partners, which conducted a survey in July of Virginia drivers that are most likely to drive after drinking: 21 to 35-year-old males.

That research showed that in the last year, 63% of men surveyed admitted to having driven after having a few drinks or being driven by someone who had a few drinks. While 96% of young men indicate that they believe it is important to make a plan to get home safely after a night of drinking, only 44% frequently do.

Since the start of the campaign in 2001, there has been notable progress in reducing drunk driving, according to the governor’s office. Alcohol-related crashes have decreased by 38%, fatalities have decreased by 23%, and injuries have nearly halved.

According to the governor’s office, the joint effort between trauma care partners and law enforcement helps to communicate a simple message: if you’re old enough to drink, act like it.

“I am no stranger to witnessing the devastating consequences of impaired driving,” said Dr. Michel Aboutanos, the Medical Director of VCU Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center. “Impaired driving not only harms the driver, but also puts many innocent lives in danger as well. It is crucial that everyone does their part in discouraging and preventing impaired driving.”

Virginia State Police personnel will work through the holiday as part of Operation CARE – the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort. CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program will begin Aug. 16 and run through the Labor Day holiday.

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