Roanoke Valley DUI Patrol’s Results an Unwelcome Surprise

 In News

There’s such thing as too much success. The Roanoke Valley, Virginia DUI task force just completed its first year of operation, and while it expected results, it got more results than it bargained for.  According to recent news reports, the task force’s first year yielded, among other arrests:

  • 385 DUI arrests, of which 310 were drunk drivers
  • 75 drivers under the influence of drugs
  • 269 motorists who were driving while suspended

Task force leaders were taken aback by the numbers of DUI arrests. Clearly the message about drinking and driving – one that Virginia has been stressing for a long time – is still not getting through to everyone.

It’s also worth noting that four-fifths of the impaired drivers caught were under the influence of alcohol. While other drugs are clearly significant, alcohol still seems to be a preferred substance where unwise driving decisions are concerned.

Another scary statistic is the number of people who ignored their suspensions. If the task force found this surprising, it shouldn’t have. Research shows that a large number of suspended drivers take to the road with no license. That number can be as high as 75 percent.

The lesson here is that suspensions are ineffective as a punishment. For this reason, Virginia mandates ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Even with ignition interlocks, the Roanoke Valley will have plenty to do next year. Perhaps, though, it won’t be such a surprise next time.

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