RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- For the 18th year, Virginia is kicking off the annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI law enforcement and public education campaign.
The increased enforcement runs through Labor Day weekend and will reoccur over specific time frames throughout the year, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.
"Last year, Virginia saw a 12 percent increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths on the Commonwealth's roadways. Such an increase should alarm every Virginian, as it's both disturbing and unacceptable," said Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel Gary Settle. "I can assure you that all Virginia troopers will be actively participating in this year's Checkpoint Strikeforce enforcement efforts alongside our local law enforcement partners. Such a life-threatening trend only motivates every one of us even more to protect the lives of Virginians."
According to a release from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the campaign launch is beings supported by new research from Lake Research, which conducted a survey of Virginia drivers who are most likely to drive after drinking just last month.
The survey spoke to 21- to 35-year-old men, and it found nearly half, at 49 percent, admitted to having driven after having a few drinks or being driven by someone who had had a few.
It also found 92 percent of young men believe it is important to make a plan for getting home safely before leaving, but only 57 percent would frequently make such a plan for a safe ride home.
"Despite understanding the importance of finding a safe ride home and the increase in the prevalence of services like rideshare apps, drunk driving incidents in the Commonwealth remain unacceptably high," said DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb. "The increased law enforcement presence in conjunction with an advertising campaign is designed to encourage responsible decision making and keep our roads safer for all."
In 2018, 278 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes, which is more than a third of all traffic fatalities in Virginia for the year. Another 19,790 were convicted of a DUI.
During the 2018 Labor Day weekend, VSP troopers arrested 72 drunk drivers.
The release calls Checkpoint Strikeforce a crucial joint effort between public and private partners that works to stop these fatalities through persuasion campaigning and high-visibility enforcement reminding likely offenders to get a safe ride home or face arrest.
There will be 120 checkpoints and 640 saturation patrols through Sept. 3 involving 98 law enforcement agencies across Virginia.
This is also in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement mobilization.