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Police Launch Annual Crackdown on Impaired Driving

If you’re driving in the U.S. Virgin islands and see flashing blue lights behind you or a traffic stop in front of you, it’s the V.I. Police Department cracking down on drunken driving.

At a Wednesday morning press conference at police headquarters in Frederiksted, officers announced the kickoff of the annual campaign against driving while impaired, repeating the slogan, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."

Beginning Friday and continuing to Sept. 3 – through the Labor Day weekend – the police will be taking extra steps to make sure that people who have been drinking aren’t driving, either because they’ve found another way to get home or because the police have arrested them and put them behind bars.

"If someone is driving impaired, he will be arrested, no breaks, no excuses," promised St. Croix Deputy Police Chief James Parris.

For the next two and a half weeks the police will be running saturation patrols and traffic stops on a daily basis throughout the territory, the police warned. It’s part of a national campaign to curb drunken driving.

Meridith Nielsen, director of the Office of Highway Safety, said the campaign requires a lot of manpower, possibly costing as much as $30,000 in overtime. But he reminded residents that the money does not come from the Police Department’s General Fund budget. It’s federal highway safety money specifically designated for the drunken driving campaign.

And Parris said it’s money well spent.

"I’ve seen the tragic result of drunken driving," Parris said. "I truly will do whatever I can to put an end to it."

Parris also urged parents to keep an eye on their teens and make sure they understand that drinking and driving is dangerous.

"We all were young at one point and we thought we knew everything," the deputy chief said. "So look out for your teens. Educate them.”

“We’ve seen too many people lose their lives," he concluded.

Police Sgt. Joseph Platt, traffic commander for the St. Croix district, urged people who go out for a night of revelry to get a designated driver or to give their keys to someone before they get drunk.

He also urged bartenders to keep an eye on their customers and try to keep them from having that "one more" drink.

Nielsen also said that during the campaign, people who have been drinking can call 911, and an available patrol unit will take them home, no questions asked.

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