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Dec 23, 2023

Plan ahead if you’re drinking this holiday season

Police pulling over suspected DUI

Don’t drink and drive this holiday season

The holidays can be a fun time of year with a lot of parties, but you can also wind up locked up behind bars if you drink and drive.

This holiday season, law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and even a man who has been arrested for a DUI are warning people about the risks of drunk driving.

The News 3 Investigative Team obtained video of people getting arrested for driving under the influence who are stumbling, reeking of alcohol and putting others in danger on the road.

Authorities say too many people are getting arrested for a DUI this time of year.

Virginia Beach has one of the highest DUI conviction rates across the state, according to the DMV.

Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle said there are several areas in Virginia Beach that are hotspots for drunk driving. He said along Shore Drive, the Oceanfront, and Town Center are areas where there is a large collection of bars and restaurants where people frequently drink.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported drunk driving fatalities increased by 14 percent between 2020 and 2021, causing heartache for so many people.

MADD Southside Representative Michael Goodove said these crimes not only impact the victim’s family but also the offender’s family as well.

Goodove lives with the pain of losing his young brother to a drunk driver. The tragedy happened back in 1990.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. It really breaks my heart, and it breaks my heart to see other victims added for something that’s so completely preventable,” said Goodove.

Experts say a DUI can be a sign of a substance abuse problem.

The National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that in 2021, about 16.5 percent of people over 12 years old were classified as having a substance use disorder.

Dr. Kevin Cuffee is the Program Supervisor for Adult Correctional Services for Human Services in Virginia Beach. He runs two programs inside the Virginia Beach Jail to help inmates overcome substance abuse issues.

He said unfortunately, sometimes it takes people getting arrested and put in jail to realize they have a substance abuse problem.

Experts say different emotions or problems can be magnified during the holidays.

Nicolas Matamoros was arrested for a DUI in Virginia Beach back in July. He spoke to News 3 from jail.

He praised the programs inside the Virginia Beach Jail for helping him identify problems with depression, anxiety and other issues with emotions.

“Our addictions are a symptom of a bigger problem, and I think the program is really geared to finding out what the bigger problem is,” said Matamoros.

Virginia Beach Sheriff Rocky Holcomb said the purpose of the programs in jail is not only to help inmates while they’re locked up, but also when they get out.

“Our hope is that we can give this training, education and focus and break the cycle of the addiction in criminal activity and live a productive life. That’s our hope,” said Sheriff Holcomb.

And to prevent yourself from getting arrested for a DUI, plan ahead this holiday season.

“In this day in age, there’s so many options out there. You can call an Uber, call Lyft, call other driving services. I would suggest that if you’re going to go out and have an evening of cocktails make sure you have a plan,” said Sheriff Holcomb.

“The message is pretty simple, if you choose to drink and you’re of age to do so, don’t drive,” said Goodove.

Article By: Margaret Kavanagh | View the full story on WTKR.com