The Virgin Islands Police Department’s Office of Highway Safety is taking part in the national crackdown on drunken driving with a 20-day, high-visibility campaign that kicks off this month.
With the slogan "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," the program is a partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to curb impaired driving and save lives. From Aug. 21 through Labor Day, Sept. 7, law enforcement partners nationwide will show zero tolerance for drunken driving, the VIPD said in a statement.
Increased state and national messaging about the dangers of driving while drunk, coupled with checkpoints and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce the toll of drunken driving.
In 2013, 10,076 people were killed nationally in drunken driving crashes, almost a third of all traffic fatalities; 38 percent of crash fatalities on Labor Day weekend that year involved drunken drivers, those who registered blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher. Those accounted for 161 highway deaths.
People aren’t invincible, the VIPD said in its statement, providing data that indicated of the 10,076 people killed in impaired-driving crashes in 2013, 65 percent were the drunken drivers.
In the territory between 2010 and 2014, 898 people were arrested for impaired driving. There were 488 DUI related crashes, including seven fatalities, the VIPD said.
In its news release Thursday, the Office of Highway Safety reminded V.I. drivers that it’s not a recommendation; it’s the law. And during the enforcement period starting Aug. 21, there will be a special emphasis on enforcing drunken driving laws.
Local drivers should expect to see more patrol vehicles, DUI checkpoints, and increased messaging about this reckless, preventable crime.
"All it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive,” the statement urged.