As summer begins, The V.I. Police Department is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on drunken driving.
This five-day, high-visibility campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, is a partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to curb impaired driving and save lives. June 30-July 4 (Emancipation & Independence Day), law enforcement partners nationwide will show zero tolerance for drunken driving. 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.
During the Fiscal year 2016, there was a total of 1,492 crashes in the St. Croix District, 36 of those crashes are attributed to impaired driving. There were 6 traffic fatalities within the district.
Two of those fatalities were related to impaired driving. For comparison, there were eight traffic fatalities in the fiscal year 2015, with one being associated with impaired driving. Troubling enough, this is an increase.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 35,092 people died in traffic crashes in 2015 in the United States, including an estimated 10,265 people who were killed in drunken driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. Among the people killed in these drunken driving crashes, 67 percent or 6,865 were in crashes where at least one driver in the crash had a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher.
In every state, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. The Office of Highway Safety wants to remind the US Virgin Islands drivers that it’s not a recommendation; it’s the law. And during the enforcement period starting June 30, there will be a special emphasis on drunken-driving enforcement.
Local drivers should expect to see more patrol vehicles, Driving Under the Influence checkpoints, and increased messaging about this reckless, preventable crime. During fiscal year 2016 there were 57 impaired driving arrests that were made; 23 more than the previous year.
In the month of June and July, of the drunken drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10 arrests or 18 percent had already been convicted of at least one drunken-driving offense.