Roanoke City Police, the Roanoke Prevention Alliance, and Virginia ABC are teaming up to launch a new campaign this weekend that targets drunk drivers.
Members of all three agencies will be in the City Market area Saturday night for a special kickoff event where they'll pass out brochures and let people know they'll be stepping up enforcement.
The Roanoke Prevention Alliance received a three year grant from the state worth $121,000 each of those years to help reduce alcohol related crashes. The group recently completed an eight month study where they looked at local data related to those crashes -- and learned some sobering information.
They found that from 2009 - 2010, the rate of alcohol related crashes for 21 - 24 year olds in Roanoke was 70 percent higher than the state average. They also learned the majority of alcohol related crashes in the city occur in the Downtown area and along the Williamson Road corridor.
The grant money will allow the group to pay for public outreach, two DUI checkpoints, and four saturation patrols (additional patrols specifically looking for drunk drivers) during the year -- the first which will take place during St. Patrick's Day weekend.
"Roanoke City Police are going to be increasing enforcement -- not that they're not out there all the time, but with this grant they're going to be out there more," said Ray Bemis, Coordinator the Roanoke Prevention Alliance. "We want to let people know that before they go out and drink and drive, they need to have a plan."
Roanoke, Campbell, and Franklin Counties also received the same type of grant and are working on their own DUI enforcement campaigns.