State Police urge Virginians to plan for a safe Fourth of July weekend

July 3, 2021
Virginia State Police Memorial Car

RICHMOND – With backyard barbecues and public Independence Day celebrations back in full swing, the Virginia State Police is encouraging everyone to plan ahead for the holiday weekend.

“This year Independence Day means a lot of different things for Virginians, but it’s safe to say big celebrations will be part of your weekend plans,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Whether watching a neighborhood fireworks display, heading to a big celebration or traveling for summer vacation, remember to buckle up, eliminate distractions and never drive buzzed, drunk or under the influence.”

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase safety and reduce traffic fatalities on Virginia’s highways during the coming holiday weekend, Virginia State Police will increase patrols from 12:01 a.m. Friday (July 2, 2021) through midnight Monday (July 5, 2021) as part of the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. During last year’s four-day Independence Day Operation C.A.R.E initiative, there were nine traffic deaths on Virginia highways. Virginia troopers arrested 44 drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cited 1,540 speeders and 732 reckless drivers, and issued 126 citations to individuals for failing to obey the law and buckle up. Troopers also assisted 1,153 disabled/stranded motorists.

If planning to drink alcohol at a July 4 function, plan ahead and arrange a designated driver, use a rideshare service or taxi, or utilize public transportation to be certain you get home safely. Party hosts are encouraged to serve non-alcoholic beverage options, and to help prevent any guests from drinking and driving home from their event.

“It is also important to note that July 4th celebrations may be a bit different this year than those of the past due to the legalization of simple possession of cannabis for adults 21 years and over,” said Colonel Settle. “Whether you are trying marijuana for the first time or are a previous cannabis consumer, remember driving under the influence is still illegal in Virginia. If we all do our small part, we increase everyone’s chances of having a safer holiday weekend.”

As of July 1, 2021, adults 21 years and older will be allowed to possess not more than one ounce of cannabis for personal use. The use of marijuana while driving a motor vehicle or while being a passenger in a motor vehicle will continue be illegal.

With increased holiday patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.


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