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'Strikeforce' campaign discourages holiday drunk driving

Law enforcement agencies all over Virginia will set up sobriety checkpoints and additional patrols throughout the holidays to prevent drunk driving. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

The target audience for any anti-drunk driving campaign is men aged 21 to 35 years old. That’s according to Kurt Erickson, head of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

KURT ERICKSON: They're overrepresented in fatal car crashes where alcohol was a factor. … and today in Virginia, nearly 70% of all DUI convictions still are male drivers, so it is still very much a male dominated crime.

His organization is working with the Department of Motor Vehicles and law enforcement agencies on the Virginia Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign to discourage drunk driving and catch those who do it.

ERICKSON: So whereas DUI crashes and injuries in your neck of the woods, in Harrisonburg as an example, went down, DUI crashes went up in Rockingham County. Drunk driving fatalities went up in Rockingham County, and drunk driving injuries went up in Rockingham County. In fact, drunk driving fatalities more than quadrupled in the last year in that county, So this is why it's a reason to be concerned.

In 2019, the DMV reported two deaths in alcohol-related crashes in Rockingham County; in 2020, there were nine.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.