NOW BEFORE YOU GO this weekend: The policing of roads all around the region is going to be super-tight -- and drivers had better not be. New drinking laws are on the books as of July 1, and new equipment and new resolve are in the patrol cars, helicopters and sobriety- checkpoint vehicles to nab and charge drinking drivers. Sympathy for the scofflaw will be at a minimum, we're informed, and with good reason: This is the season when too much murder happens on the highways. We're now into Day 3 of the "62 most dangerous days" in Greater Washington for drunken driving and deaths related to it.
Last year during July and August, there were 48 alcohol-related traffic deaths in the metropolitan area -- or one death every 31 hours. For that matter, the year-round statistics are awful enough: On the average, someone is killed every other day in Greater Washington because of drinking and driving. That's why the Washington Regional Alcohol Program -- a coalition of police, lawmakers, business and civic leaders and families of accident victims -- is conducting yet another campaign against the most frequently committed violent crime.
For the record, in case you haven't read or heard it, a new law in Maryland now prohibits any drinking in a vehicle while driving it. Another law in Maryland states that drivers convicted of a drunk- driving offense twice in three years will face mandatory sentences of 48 hours in jail or 10 days of community service. In Virginia, the new drinking law makes it illegal for anybody under 21 to buy, possess or drink beer -- except those who already have reached the state's previous drinking age of 19. For wine and liquor, it's 21 for everybody.
End of warning. Theme of campaign: A sober ride is your license to summer fun. Don't lose it.