Commonwealth of Virginia Launches 19th Annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI Enforcement and Outreach Campaign

New data shows that more than half of men in Virginia ages 21-35 have driven after having a few drinks or been driven by someone who had a few drinks.

Richmond, Va. – Today marks the launch of Virginia’s 19th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI enforcement and public education campaign in Virginia. The enforcement will take place from August 26th through Labor Day weekend and resume periodically through key moments like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve.

“2020 has brought unique challenges to the Commonwealth, but we cannot forget about the epidemic of drunk driving that has taken the lives of too many Virginians for decades,” said Governor Ralph Northam about the challenges of tackling drunk driving. “The work of Checkpoint Strikeforce is a critical part of our efforts to prevent drunk driving. The work we do this year will be to save lives—plain and simple.”

The campaign launch is supported by new research from local partner Lake Research Partners who last month conducted a survey of Virginia drivers that are most likely to drive after drinking: 21 to 35-year-old males. The research showed that more than half (57%) of men surveyed admitted to having driven after having a few drinks or being driven by someone who had a few drinks, despite a strong majority (95%) of young men indicated that they believe it is important to make a plan to get home safely after a night of drinking. Of the men surveyed, 52% said that they have needed a safe ride after drinking more or the same amount this year (2020) in comparison to last year, showing the desire to still socialize despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public safety messages of the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign along with enforcement play a critical role in helping keep impaired drivers off the road. The message to Virginians is simple. Don’t risk a DUI if you have been drinking.”

Last year in Virginia, nearly a third (31.92%) of all Virginia traffic fatalities were due to alcohol-related crashes. Another 18,648 people were convicted of a DUI in the Commonwealth. During last year’s Labor Day weekend alone, Virginia State troopers arrested 76 drunk drivers, averaging a DUI arrest every 75 minutes. Checkpoint Strikeforce is a crucial joint effort between public and private partners that works to stop these fatalities through surround-sound persuasion campaigning and high-visibility enforcement that reminds likely offenders to get a safe ride after drinking or face arrest.

Virginia State Police personnel will work through the holiday as part of Operation CARE – the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort. CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program will begin Friday, September 4, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., and continue through midnight Monday, Sept. 7, 2020.

Complementing the enforcement, Checkpoint Strikeforce is continuing its advertising campaign called “Act Like It.” The 30-second ad is an updated version of the spot which debuted in 2018. To address the current COVID-19 pandemic we are in in 2020, the traffic safety campaign’s “man-baby” character returns, staying in his apartment and enjoying an evening with this girlfriend but still considering dangerous choices. The spot was built on public opinion research that shows the campaign’s primary audience strongly agrees (81% with 94% agreeing overall) that “people who drink and drive are not acting like responsible adults.” The advertisements remind viewers that drinking and driving is irresponsible—if you’re old enough to drink, act like it. Don’t risk a DUI. The latest ad can be viewed here:

Checkpoint Strikeforce is part of a research-based multi-state, zero tolerance initiative designed to get impaired drivers off the roads using checkpoints and patrols along with education about the dangers and consequences of driving while intoxicated. Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign is supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to the nonprofit and Falls Church-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).