The top brass of the V.I. Police Department came together in a Monday press conference warning Virgin Island residents that drunk driving will not be tolerated over the Fourth of July holiday.
Operating under the slogan, “Drive sober or get pulled over,” the department will launch a crackdown operation on impaired driving on the days surrounding the holiday. Police officials said their tactics will include sobriety checkpoints, roving and saturation patrols, and other methods.
“We have a zero tolerance policy,” said Deputy Chief Dwayne DeGraffe. “We’re not going to give you a break. We’re going to lock you up, put you away for driving under the influence.”
Naturally the police did not specify exactly where or when the checkpoints will be operating, but DeGraffe did disclose that his officers would be paying particularly close attention to people traveling between St. Thomas and St. John.
“We will have traffic points at both ends of the Red Hook dock. We’ll have traffic points on the waterfront area where all boats lead to St. John,” he said, adding later, “We’re going to be checking you before you go to St. John and we’re going to be checking you after you come from St. John.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays to be on the road. In 2010, 392 people were killed in traffic crashes in the United States on the days surrounding the holiday.
“While these fatalities are devastating, they are fully preventable,” said Police Commissioner Henry W. White Jr. “Contrary to popular belief, planning ahead does not mean you can’t still have fun. It means nothing more than taking responsibility in making a decision to keep you, your loved ones and everyone on the road safe.”
White said citizens should designate a sober driver before the party begins or use a taxi to get home. He also encouraged people to prevent their friends from driving drunk and, if they see a drunk driver on the road, to notify the police.
Those caught driving drunk could face jail time and lose their licenses. White said violators could also face a financial burden from court costs, accident liability and from high insurance premiums in the future.
“In the end, the consequences of driving impaired are simply not worth the risk,” he said. “So make sure to plan ahead before the celebration begins.”