PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Put down the drinks before you drive. This holiday weekend, Virginia will amp up its patrols and checkpoints in an effort to keep the roads safer.
On Thursday, law enforcement agencies, Virginia State Police and Governor Terry McAuliffe gathered at the State Capitol to discuss the efforts of Checkpoint Strikeforce.
This is the sixteenth year of the campaign, involving nearly 200 agencies deploying anti-drunk driving efforts.
Drunk drivers are involved in one-third of Labor Day traffic deaths. On average, Virginia sees double-digit such fatalities during that time.
“My message is clear — do not drink and drive,” McAuliffe said. “If you do, we will catch you.”
The agencies are setting up nearly 150 sobriety checkpoints and 520 saturation patrols through the holiday weekend.
“We will have an unprecedented amount of law enforcement on all of our streets,” said McAuliffe.
After declining in 2014 and 2015, alcohol-impaired traffic deaths increased on Virginia’s roadways last year with 262 lives lost.
“Each of Virginia’s 262 drunk driving deaths last year, let’s be clear, it was someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, colleague or friend. Every single one of these deaths was preventable,” said McAuliffe.
Already this year there has been an eight percent increase compared to 2016.
While law enforcement can’t stop everyone, Virginia did rack up 19,925 DUI convictions last year alone.
“These numbers represent lives saved and clearly show that increased enforcement is working,” said Major Lenmuel S. Terry with Virginia State Police.
The Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign primarily targets men between the ages of 21 and 35 who are statistically at the highest risk for drunk driving.
Click here to learn more about the effort.