Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced a statewide crackdown on drunken driving last week, and University of Richmond police officers have made two DUI arrests already this semester.
The announcement came after national statistics showed that Virginia was one of 16 states to have an increase in DUI-related fatalities in 2007. A statement from the governor's office said that for the remainder of 2008, law enforcement in Virginia would hold a sobriety checkpoint each week.
University of Richmond police officers will be setting up three unannounced checkpoints during the fall semester. Sgt. Eric Beatty of the campus police said catching impaired drivers is not the goal of setting up the sobriety checkpoint.
"The goal is to let people know that the department is out there looking for impaired drivers," he said. "The numbers don't mean anything. It's really about the visibility, letting people know to not drive drunk."
Beatty said that checkpoints are set up in conjunction with Henrico County police. "Our department has seven or eight officers to commit to a checkpoint. So we work with Henrico, and they can bring in 20 to 25 officers so it goes smoothly."
DUI-related fatalities have risen in Virginia every year since 2005, and in 2007 nearly 40 percent of vehicle fatalities were alcohol-related.
Some students said that people at campus parties were fairly responsible for ensuring that a number of students who drove had a designated driver.
"Generally at frat parties, they are good about making sure everybody is safe," said sophomore Louise Dickson.
To many, drinking is a part of the culture on campus. "It's different with freshmen than with upperclassmen," said Kelly Barrows, a senior and resident assistant. "Many seniors drink a lot, but they tend to stay within their limits. Freshmen tend to binge drink."
Barrows said that last year she had to send two first-year students to the hospital with alcohol poisoning.
"One [student] had taken 12 shots in 20 minutes," Barrows said. "Apparently her boyfriend had recently broken up with her. Her roommates waited for over an hour to call me because they were afraid of getting in trouble."
Freshman Katherine Schmidt said that the level of drinking on campus had amazed her when she had arrived.
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"It really turned me off to going to parties," she said. "I feel like some [freshmen] need to prove that they can party to their new friends."
Freshman Mallory Young said that she doesn't go to parties often but that she can find things to do. "I hang out with my friends, watch movies and last week I went to the Ben Lee concert at The Cellar," she said. "I'm definitely not bored on the weekend."
Contact staff writer David Larter at
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