Campaign to combat drunk driving

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A warning for motorists: Drive sober or get pulled over. It's a message that could save your life.

This is the time of year when police see an increase in drunk driving deaths.

If you get behind the wheel expect to see an increase in checkpoints and patrols on the roadway. It's all part of an effort to help reduce or eliminate drunk driving especially during the holiday season.

It's called Checkpoint Strikeforce and the program is being kicked into high gear statewide.

"As much as Virginia has lowered its numbers in terms of DUI fatalities even out pacing the nation in terms of drunk driving deaths --  we're still convicting over 29,000 people yearly for DUI in the state alone," said Spokesperson Kurt Erickson.

There are now more checkpoints and patrols, and you never know which streets or roads will be targeted by law enforcement.

"In addition to law enforcement doing an increase in sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, we're also investing a million dollars in terms of trying to prevent drunk driving in the first place," said Erickson.

An education advertising campaign is underway. Commercials warning drivers that driving drunk can land you behind bars or worse -- are being aired throughout the state.

"In any given time of the year a third of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related -- that figure jumps to 40% in December and when you factor in new year's eve there's a 60% up-tick," said Erickson.

Experts say sobriety checkpoints can reduce alcohol related crashes anywhere from 18% to 26%.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.