When a holiday known for copious alcohol consumption falls on a Saturday night, the attention of local authorities inevitably turns to drunk drivers. During the recent St. Patrick’s Day holiday, police in Albemarle, Virginia, set up a series of roadblocks meant to deter drunk driving accidents.

A combination of Albemarle police, deputies from the County Sheriff’s office, state police and police from the University of Virginia worked together to review hundreds of drivers. Given the calamities that drunk driving can cause — permanent disabilities, head-on collisions, huge medical expenses — there is little surprise that Virginia police gave so much attention to this issue.

However, the checkpoints, which were spread throughout the local area, netted a total of only five DUI arrests. A grant from the Department of Motor Vehicles funded the 60 officers who put in hours during the holiday. However, it might very well be that drivers who might have been tempted to drink and drive were deterred from doing so by the increased police presence. It is certainly possible that those drivers were never on the road that night, and lives might have been saved as a result.

Virginia is one of the strictest states when it comes to drinking and driving. The state has a Checkpoint Strikeforce, a regional collaboration of weekly drunk driving checkpoints. If drivers, such as those passing through the weekend checkpoints, have that amount or higher of alcohol in their system, they can face a DUI charge. However, police at the checkpoints in Albemarle County did not allow drivers with a .05 percent blood alcohol content or higher to drive home.

Source: WINA, “Area police set up St. Patrick’s Day drunk driving roadblocks,” March 19, 2012