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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesPolice Announce Holiday Campaign to Stop People from Drinking and Driving

Police Announce Holiday Campaign to Stop People from Drinking and Driving

Assistant Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah appeared to be in the holiday spirit at a press conference Tuesday morning in Hannah’s Rest.

Despite his jovial mood, however, the message he was there to deliver was actually quite serious in nature.

Hannah delivered that message loud and clear. The police will not tolerate drunken driving one iota during the Christmas Carnival and holiday season.

“If you’re driving drunk, over the limit, you will get arrested. That is our message to you today,” Hannah said.

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“We’re saying to each one of you, out on the roadway, drive sober or get pulled over.”

He added, “It’s a clear and distinct message. Stay off the roadways.”

The ramped up national campaign – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over – which kicks off this weekend with checkpoints and extra eyes on the prowl for impaired drivers, will now last in the territory through the end of the Crucian holidays, which extends the life on the national campaign – which ends Jan. 1 – by nearly a week.

“Ours is going to be longer than that,” Hannah said. “We have to consider Three Kings Day.”

More than once, in pleading with party-goers to not drink and drive, Hannah reiterated: “We need to take time and look at what we’re doing.”

Nationally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,367 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2011, with 31 percent or nearly 10,000 of those deaths attributed to drunken driving.

While the Virgin Islands has largely been spared many fatalities related to DUI – there was one in 2013 and five over the last three-year-period – even one, Hannah said, is too many.

It was in delivering that message that Hannah pleaded with drivers who might consider drinking and driving to think of a potential victim’s family – and the impact a drunken driving related fatality would have on that family for the rest of their lives.

“For the people who don’t drink and drive, that’s on their minds. They want to get home to their families safe. They want to be able to relax, to enjoy themselves,” Hannah said. “If you’re that person who’s not taken stock in yourself and what you’re doing, you can seriously cause someone to be hurt or seriously injured.”

With police providing some recently compiled numbers for the just completed 2013 fiscal year, the number of DUI-related arrests in the territory was one higher (190) than the previous year with the number of crashes up by 10 from 2012. Oddly though, even with crashes up (96 in 2013 versus 86 in 2012), DUI-related injuries were down significantly from a 2012 count of 58 to only 19 in 2013.

Hannah said for those who do drink and drive, there’s much he wants them to consider in their decision-making process. Besides the fact that they could kill or hurt someone, there was also the threat of facing jail time, the loss of a driver’s license and high insurance rates, not to mention attorney fees, court costs, time away from your loved ones and even potentially lost work wages, he said. “The costs are insurmountable.”

St. Croix’s Traffic Commander Lt. Joseph Platt added, “We’ll be cracking down. We’ll be all over the entire island. You’ll see our guys doing a lot of stops. We’re not saying don’t have your fun, we’re saying get a designated driver or ride with someone else or take public transportation.”

Platt said DUI-related arrests on St. Croix were 80 in 2013, which was up from 64 the previous year.

The traffic commander from the St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island district of the territory, Rosalyn Jarvis, said impaired driving is an irresponsible act committed by irresponsible people. “We need to be responsible. Take the keys, call a cab for someone or give them a ride home. We have to do this,” Jarvis said.

She said her district had 110 DUI-related arrests in 2013 but the number didn’t include December, which she hoped would be zero.

“It’s not about the arrests,” Jarvis said. “It’s about deterring people from committing this irresponsible act. “

Hannah added some parting words and advice for the public.

For someone in desperate need of a ride because they’re impaired, he said, “If push comes to shove, call 911. Ask for assistance through 911. They’ll be able to assist you with getting you to someone who can get you home safely.”

He closed by making a point mainlanders and natives often don’t consider ahead of time. “Remember, our roads are not the best in the world. I don’t care what anyone says, our roads are not the best in the world,” he said.

“We have potholes. We have construction going on. We have debris from rain and flooding. You need to be able to pay attention to what’s going on.”

One more thing concerned him too. “And put your cell phone down,” Hannah said. “They’re a distraction.”

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