The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Bureau of Law Enforcement has been awarded a grant from the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association (NLLEA) to implement “Operation: Prevent Impaired Driving,” an initiative focused on reducing alcohol-related crashes in Roanoke and Virginia Beach. The $25,000 grant, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will be used to support increased alcohol education and law enforcement operations now through Labor Day, and again during the winter holidays.
“Our objective is to intercept potential drunk drivers,” said ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement Director Shawn Walker. “We will be partnering with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Roanoke and Virginia Beach police departments as well as garnering support from other law enforcement and prevention organizations to create a ‘community front’ against impaired driving. ABC will specifically be stepping up education and enforcement operations in local establishments with a goal of stopping alcohol-impaired patrons from ever getting behind the wheel,” he said.
Last year in Virginia, more than 27,000 people were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). In addition, more than 5,280 people were injured and 250 killed in alcohol-related crashes, a roughly 10 percent increase over 2012. Roanoke and Virginia Beach were both in the top five jurisdictions across the state for DUI convictions.
During the campaign, ABC will work in conjunction with local law enforcement organizations to lower the number of DUI incidents. While Virginia Beach and Roanoke police implement sobriety checkpoints in their respective cities, ABC agents will work with licensed establishments to reinforce laws related to “over service,” a term that refers to restaurant staff continuing to provide alcoholic drinks to intoxicated patrons.
ABC special agents will also ramp up efforts to train bartenders, managers and restaurant waitstaff to recognize intoxicated customers and better understand Virginia’s alcohol laws. Restaurants will be encouraged to participate in the agency’s free alcohol training programs, Responsible Sellers and Servers Program (RSVP) and Managers Alcohol Responsibility (MART), which school employees on the laws and regulations that govern alcohol sales and consumption in Virginia. This fall, flyers highlighting the signs of intoxicated customers will be distributed to licensees, extra classes will be added to the training schedule and custom classes will be available upon request.
Partners and supporters said the following:
The NLLEA grant will run through Jan. 31, 2015 in support of the two-phase project: late August through Labor Day and Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Campaign partners include DMV, the Virginia Beach Police Department and the Roanoke Police Department. Other supporters include the Virginia State Police, Roanoke County Police Department, Salem Police Department, Vinton Police Department, Roanoke Prevention Alliance, Prevention Council of Roanoke County, Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and more.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $1.8 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 350 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 16,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
ABC Awarded National Grant for Impaired Driving Initiative; Increased Operations Kick Off Now through Labor Day