Police targeting drugs, alcohol

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 10, 2004

Staff Report

Since 1981, every President of the United States has confirmed his commitment to preventing impaired driving by proclaiming December &uot;National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention (3-D) Month.&uot;

The Virginia State Police stated in a release Thursday troopers will be patrolling vigilantly for those driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs this holiday season.

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&uot;With Christmas and New Year’s Day both falling on Saturdays this year, we are anticipating record volumes of holiday travelers and revelers,&uot; Colonel W.Steve Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent, said.

&uot;Therefore, it is especially imperative that no one gets behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Let’s end 2004 by making December our safest month yet in Virginia.&uot;

During 2003, 361 lives were lost and 7,819 individuals were injured in alcohol-related crashes on Virginia’s roadways.

&uot;The increased patrols our troopers provide during holiday periods are of immense benefit to the public’s safety,&uot; Flaherty said. &uot;With everyone’s help, we can put a stop to fatalities and personal injuries caused by drunk or drugged driving.&uot;

Throughout December, troopers will also be promoting responsible holiday celebrations through the &uot;None for the Road&uot; educational campaign. Beginning Dec. 10, Virginia State Police will join forces with law enforcement agencies from Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia to kickoff the Checkpoint Strikeforce holiday campaign. Every week through Jan. 3, 2005, State Police and local law enforcement officials will be conducting sobriety checkpoints on designated roadways throughout the Mid- Atlantic region.

Also as part of the 3-D Month campaign, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) are designating the weekend immediately prior to the Christmas holiday as National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend. This time period was chosen because traditionally the holiday season is a time of increased travel and alcohol consumption.

Beginning on Friday, Dec. 17 through Sunday, Dec. 19, State Police and local law enforcement will be maximizing their efforts on problem roads during times when collisions are most likely to occur.

&uot;These various safety initiatives are extremely valuable this time of the year because they focus on the serious dangers of driving both drunk and/or drugged,&uot; Flaherty said. &uot;Even one drink is too many when it comes to operating a motor vehicle. The only way to ensure your safety and everyone else’s is to serve as a designated driver, take a taxi or stay put for the night.&uot;