VA Launches Annual Checkpoint DUI Enforcement / Outreach Campaign

Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall takes questions at Thursday's press conference.

The State of Virginia has launched it’s 18th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI law enforcement and public education campaign. The increased enforcement will take place from August 16th through Labor Day weekend and resume periodically through key moments like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve.

“Last year, Virginia saw a 12% (12.1%) increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths on the Commonwealth’s roadways. Such an increase should alarm every Virginian, as it’s both disturbing and unacceptable,” said Virginia State Police Colonel Gary T. Settle. “I can assure you that all Virginia troopers will be actively participating in this year’s Checkpoint Strikeforce enforcement efforts alongside our local law enforcement partners. Such a life-threatening trend only motivates every one of us even more to protect the lives of Virginians.”

The campaign launch is supported by new research from local partner Lake Research who, last month, conducted a survey of Virginia drivers that are most likely to drive after drinking: 21 to 35-year-old males. The research showed that nearly half (49%) of men surveyed admitted to having driven after having a few drinks or being driven by someone who had a few drinks. Additionally, a strong majority (92%) of young men believe it is important to make a plan to get home safely before you go out for the night, but less than two-thirds (57%) frequently plan ahead for a safe ride home.

“Despite understanding the importance of finding a safe ride home and the increase in the prevalence of services like rideshare apps, drunk driving incidents in the Commonwealth remain unacceptably high,” said Richard Holcomb, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “The increased law enforcement presence in conjunction with an advertising campaign is designed to encourage responsible decision making and keep our roads safer for all.”

Last year in Virginia, 278 people lost their lives in alcohol-related traffic crashes representing over a third (33.94%) of all Virginia traffic fatalities in 2018. Another 19,790 people were convicted of a DUI in the Commonwealth. During last year’s Labor Day weekend alone, Virginia State troopers arrested 72 drunk drivers, averaging a DUI arrest every 80 minutes. Checkpoint Strikeforce is a crucial joint effort between public and private partners that works to stop these fatalities through surround-sound persuasion campaigning and high-visibility enforcement that reminds likely offenders to get a safe ride home or face arrest.

Partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization, approximately 98 law enforcement agencies—including local and Virginia State Police—will operate 120 checkpoints and 640 saturation patrols from Aug. 16 through Sept. 3, 2019.

Complementing the high visibility enforcement, Checkpoint Strikeforce is sponsoring an advertising campaign called “Act Like It.” The 30-second spot debuted in 2018, built on public opinion research that shows the target audience strongly agrees (81% with 94% agreeing overall) that “people who drink and drive are not acting like responsible adults.” The advertisements remind viewers that drinking and driving is irresponsible—if you’re old enough to drink, act like it. Get a safe ride home. The ad can be viewed here: