2012 marked the fifth straight year the number of deaths related to drunk driving dropped in Virginia: last year, they were down six percent. Locally, the drop is due to a crackdown by police.
The Roanoke City Police Department has been taking extra steps over the last year to get drunk drivers off the roads. Starting in March of this year, the department teamed up with the Roanoke Prevention Alliance and Virginia ABC to make our area safer.
Through a grant, they have been able to have two extra sobriety check points since March.
There have also been more saturation patrols, which allow officers to look specifically for signs of drunk driving while on duty.
So far this year, the department has made a little over 300 DUI arrests.
Ray Bemis of the Roanoke Prevention Alliance says there has been an increase in arrests since the partnership with the department began, but that's not the goal.
"We don't want any DUIs," he said. "We don't want the Roanoke Police Department to have to give a DUI citation to anyone because we want people to be responsible before they get to that point."
To discourage heavy drinking, the RPA also been monitoring the websites of local restaurants, looking for online advertisements of happy hour or drinking specials, which violates ABC regulations.
They've already found multiple local restaurants that have violated that policy, and ABC has taken action in those cases.
They are trying to reach the entire community, but they did identify through research that 21- to 24-year-olds were involved in the most alcohol-related accidents in the area.