Police: Be smart during holiday

Virginia law enforcement will increase patrols and checkpoints this weekend in an effort to discourage unsafe driving practices during the New Year’s holiday.

The holiday weekend is statistically known for incidents of drunk driving, a news release from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Highway Safety Office’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign advised. As part of the campaign, local and state law enforcement agencies have been increasing sobriety checkpoints and patrols during December.

Although Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty stated that alcohol-related deaths and injuries on Virginia highways are in fact decreasing, he stressed that drunk driving isn’t a victimless crime.

“You could kill yourself or someone else, or get a DUI and go to jail,” he stated in the news release. “We need every driver to make smart, safe and sober decisions.”

On average, nearly half of the nation’s traffic fatalities at New Year’s between 2010 and 2015 involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit of .08, the release said.

And penalties in Virginia, even for a first-time DUI conviction, are significant, including mandatory ignition interlock installation on the offender’s vehicle, fines up to $2,500, suspension periods up to a year, and jail sentences also up to a year, the release said.

Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign is supported by a grant from DMV, the Virginia Highway Safety Office to the nonprofit, and Virginia-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program.