DUI enforcement protects others

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Twelve area law enforcement officers from various departments were recently recognized by the Piedmont Alcohol Safety Action Program for ticketing at least five drunk drivers during the year.

Three of the 12 work in Lunenburg County — one is a police officer for Kenbridge, and one is a police officer for Victoria. The third is a state trooper. The annual event was done as part of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month.

It reminded me of how in late October, Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement issued a statement bemoaning a disturbing spike in driving under the influence cases — though he also praised local and state law enforcement for the number of DUI arrests.

Clement noted that in the four weeks between Oct. 14 and Nov. 4, his office saw at least 15 cases of DUI.

It turns out, Clement said, that statistics indicate that repeat offenders are more likely to cause the vast majority of accidents that kill or maim, so the General Assembly had toughened some of the laws directed at them.

Drunk drivers should frighten us all, but I assume that most of us don’t give them a second thought; probably because — well, the police will deal with them. And they do.

Ronnie Roberts, chief of police for Louisa and the event’s keynote speaker, told the officers that he has seen about every type of crash you could see, and finally decided that he had to do something about it.

Making DUI arrests isn’t easy, though. They can be time consuming — easily taking three hours of an officer’s day, he said.

“But how many lives have you saved with that stop?” he rhetorically asked the crowd.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s not about how many arrests I’ve made. It’s about how many lives I’ve saved getting drunk drivers off the road.”

ASAP honoree Victoria Police Officer Daniel W. Medlin said it would disturb him to think he had a chance to get a drunk driver off the road, but didn’t.

“They can meet your family, my family, anybody,” he said.

Fellow honoree Kenbridge Police Officer Aaron Peter recalled making a DUI arrest on prom night.

“It just felt really good getting him off the streets before he hit some innocent kid going to prom,” he said.

It all reminded me of a joke I heard years ago. The joke goes, essentially, it’s easy not to like cops, until the moment you need one.

Jamie Ruff is a staff reporter for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. His email is jamie.ruff@kvd.com.