Checkpoints in place to catch drunk drivers

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you're thinking about drinking and driving this holiday weekend - don't. Starting Friday, there will be at least one sobriety checkpoint every week until the end of the year.

Diane Burgess is 100-precent sure she won't end up in a sobriety checkpoint.

"We're very cautious. We try to avoid driving, particularly on big holidays," said Burgess.

The Hanover woman isn't quick to forget the dangers this weekend.

"Drinking is a major issue. Crazy drivers are another," she said.

Governor Bob McDonnell just announced the start of Checkpoint Strikeforce. The program created to crackdown on drunk drivers.

"We are an absolutely, rock-solid, tough, no nonsense state when it comes to making the bad decision about drunk driving," McDonnell said.

Local and state police are manning checkpoints and saturated patrols during one of the deadliest times for Virginia drivers. Last year, 14 people were killed during the four-day weekend.

Sobriety checkpoints can work one of two ways. Officers will either stop and check every single vehicle or one in a group. They're looking for a few things, license and registration and signs that you may be drunk.

"Well it's a big inconvenience I know. But if you just save one life I think it's well worth it and people should keep that in mind," Burgess said.

People should also think of Trooper Cliff Thomas. He was hit by a drunk driver while responding to a crash in July.

"And within those few seconds I had thoughts run through my mind: how was this going to end?  Would I ever see my wife and children again?" Thomas said.

Alcohol-related crashes account for more than 4-percent of all traffic accidents. This year, Virginia is working with surrounding states: Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. It's a border-to-border crackdown of drunk driving.

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