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Posted July 2, 2008 | comments Leave a comment

State Police: Play it safe on land, water this holiday weekend

This just in from the Virginia State Police:

RICHMOND - With Virginia's lakes, rivers, bays and oceanfront popular holiday destinations for the coming Fourth of July weekend, drivers are reminded to play it safe both on the water and on the road. Today across the Commonwealth press conferences were held to remind Virginians that BUI - Boating Under the Influence - and DUI - Driving Under the Influence -are an illegal and deadly combination, especially at a time when waterways and highways are at their busiest.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and numerous local law enforcement gathered alongside the James River and Smith Mountain Lake on Wednesday, July 2, to focus on boating and vehicle traffic safety during the Independence Day weekend.

"In the interest of public safety this Fourth of July weekend, Virginia conservation police officers will be joining forces with the Virginia State Police and other law enforcement personnel across the Commonwealth. The primary focus of this effort will be to apprehend those persons operating motorboats and motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs," said VDGIF Law Enforcement Division Chief Colonel Dabney W. Watts, Jr.

Nationwide recreational boating is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities, and Virginia is no exception. The number of registered boats in the Commonwealth exceeds 250,000 and Virginia is a prime boating destination for out-of-state visitors. This figure does not include kayaks, canoes or non-motorized sailboats. In an attempt to keep Virginia's busy waterways safe for all citizens to enjoy, Virginia conservation police officers launched Operation SWEEP - Safer Waterways through Enforcement and Education Programs - last summer. During the start-up phase of this program 109 patrols were conducted resulting in 1,163 boat inspections; 203 warnings were issued and 294 arrests were made which included 14 arrests for operating boats either under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To learn more about boating laws and boating education in Virginia, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at www.dgif.virginia.gov .

"Virginia's law enforcement have zero tolerance for drunk and drugged drivers because it's their actions that cost lives on our roads and waterways," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "No matter what you drive - a passenger car, pickup, motorcycle, or boat - if you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested."

As part of the State Police's holiday enforcement efforts, all available troopers and supervisors will join law enforcement agencies nationwide in Operation C.A.R.E., the Combined Accident Reduction Effort. C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints, particularly during national holidays. The 2008 Operation C.A.R.E. holiday enforcement wave begins at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, July 3, 2008, and will conclude at midnight Sunday, July 6, 2008.

In 2007 as part of Operation C.A.R.E., Virginia State Police cited a total of 22,288 traffic and criminal violations, including: 169 for DUI; 10,468 for speeding; 3,048 for reckless driving; 394 for not using child restraints; and 1,011 for seatbelt violations.

Eighteen individuals were killed in 17 traffic crashes last July 4th statewide in Virginia. Of those killed in 2007, 15 were not wearing safety belts. A total of 22 people died in crashes during the 2006 Independence Day holiday.

Preventing drunk and drugged driving is one of the key messages of Virginia's Highway Safety Challenge (www.safeVAhighways.org ). To prevent and reduce traffic crash fatalities, Virginia State Police, VDOT and DMV are challenging all Virginians to follow five simple steps towards a safer future.

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