VIPD launches 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign


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ST. CROIX - The V.I. Police Department said Thursday that it will launch its latest in a series of initiatives and driving safety campaigns in hopes of keeping the roads safe in the face of what it said are rising numbers of drunken drivers.

The "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign will run from today through Labor Day on Sept. 1, according to Barbara Flemming, Highway Safety coordinator.

During a press conference on St. Croix on Thursday, Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. said law enforcement officers will be out in the community in each district on the look out for drunken drivers to get them off the roads.

"Drunk driving is the most deadly and harmful crime that there is, and even one drunk driver on our roads is one too many," he said. "We have to really take the matters seriously because alcohol and vehicles should not mix."

He encouraged residents to plan ahead and avoid the risk by having a designated driver, taking keys away from friends who have had too much to drink, calling a taxi or calling 911 for assistance.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said police officers have seen a significant increase of impaired driving during the times that they do such initiatives and have also been able to make arrests, not only as a result of the strategically placed traffic road blocks, but because many times drunken drivers end in traffic collisions.

Police provided statistics that showed a steady increase in the number of drunken driving crashes and injuries, while arrests are down.

Parris said the number of DUI fatalities in the territory this fiscal year is the same as last year, standing at one. However, while there were 96 crashes in 2013, there have already been 96 already have occurred this fiscal year, which still has several weeks before it is over.

In 2013, there were 19 DUI-related injuries, and this year there have been 35, Parris said. Last year, there were 190 DUI arrests, compared with 105 so far this year, he said.

Flemming said "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" is a national campaign designed to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving through high-visibility enforcement and public education tools, including posters, banners and signs. Launched across the U.S. in 1999, the program works to combat drunken driving during some of the busiest travel times of the year, including the Labor Day holiday period.

Flemming said it is illegal in the territory to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per deciliter.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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