PARTIED OUT: Despite the fatality-free weekend, heavy midsummer drinking continued, with 253 people detained for drunk driving.
RIGA - Latvia achieved an important social and law enforcement milestone over the midsummer weekend in that not one person was killed in a vehicular accident, a dramatic improvement in comparison to recent years.
Thanks to an advertising blitz and a massive police crackdown on June 22 - 24, Latvian drivers were under constant reminder not to drive while under the influence of alcohol.
Still, an extraordinary number of drivers did so anyway.
According to a press release from the State Police, 253 people were detained for driving under the influence over the three-day period 's including 71 people who did not have a driver's license.
Police searched a total of 33,827 vehicles. This included 57 people from over 8,008 cars searched on June 22, 77 people from 10,466 cars searched on June 23, and 119 people from 15,353 cars on Midsummer's Day.
Additionally, 56 people were caught driving sober but without a valid driver's license.
In total, police conducted 226 raids 's involving 1,032 traffic police and 594 police representatives from different areas 's over the three day period.
Road Police chief Edmunds Zivtins noted that while the number of accidents over the weekend was high, the media campaign seemed to have a positive effect.
"This is a high figure. We have ample reason to be concerned about highway safety," Zivtins said in an interview with the popular morning talk show "900 Sekundes."
He went on to note that despite the high number of people driving under the influence, there were only 15 accidents with minor injuries but no fatalities over the weekend.
By contrast, 26 people died in vehicular accidents during the Ligo holiday in 2000.
The national police department thanked all of the officers who spent the holiday period working to ensure public safety on June 25, praising the officer's good work.
Interior Minister Ivars Godmanis told the press that if the situation did not improve and the number of incidents involving driving under the influence does not decline over the midsummer holidays, then it may be necessary to declare a national emergency situation during Ligo.
He even predicted that "the midsummer will be an emergency situation in Latvia before we see a steady drop of statistical figures."