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Virginia vows DUI crackdown through Labor Day

Staff report • Aug 28, 2018 at 2:30 PM

RICHMOND — Virginia officials are warning of enhanced law enforcement with a particular crackdown on driving while impaired on state highways through the Labor Day weekend.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and state Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran remind drivers the risks they face if they get behind the wheel while impaired, including loss of driving privileges, money and most important, lives.

"Last year, 248 people were killed on Virginia's roadways in alcohol-related traffic crashes. More than 4,400 people were injured," Valentine said. "According to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) during the Labor Day weekend specifically, Virginia recorded 55 alcohol-related traffic injuries that absolutely could have been prevented."

Moran said Labor Day weekend is the traditional end of the summer travel season, "which, unfortunately, comes with another unacceptable recurrence: drunk driving. Nationally in 2016, out of 433 crash fatalities, more than one-third involved drivers with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher."

Two weeks ago, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Virginia's statewide Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign through Sept. 3, along with similar operations intermittently through the rest of the year. Virginia State Police and local police agencies are conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. Last year, 18,701 people were convicted of DUI in Virginia.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the average DUI conviction costs about $10,000, making the price of a taxi, ride share, or safe ride home with a sober pal or family member far more attractive options on potential financial impacts alone.

Individuals who get caught face the loss of their driver's licenses, higher insurance rates, jail time, attorneys' fees, court costs and many other expenses.

A recent NHTSA study found that drivers who exceeded the .08 BAC legal limit had about four times the risk of a traffic crash as sober drivers. Those with BAC levels at .15 or greater had 12 times the risk.

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