By Mike Dougherty and Steve Patterson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — July 4th is next weekend, but police throughout Pennsylvania are hitting the streets starting tonight to nab impared drivers.
DUI checkpoints will be set up throughout the region.
“The bottom line for DUI enforcement is for one thing: safety,” says David Dunlap, a highway safety officer with the Montgomery Township police.
He also says a lot of thought is put into the checkpoint locations.
“We just can’t set something up in the middle of the day on a residential street and have a checkpoint,” he said. “We couldn’t do that. It’s all based on statistics, where you have a high number of DUI crashes and DUI arrests.”
Several municipalities throughout Montgomery and Bucks counties are working with the state police on the safety initiative.
Officer Dunlap says even drivers who are not impaired will be given literature about the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“About 35 percent of the DUI drivers are actually impaired through drugs,” he notes.
Dunlap is now the head of the County’s regional task force – five departments, 50 officers – $50,000 in annual funding from PennDOT — the same number of DUIs in Pennsylvania last year.
“It is frustrating. All we can do is keep on getting the message out,” he says.
The message is, if you’re drunk out there, they will find you.
Mandated personal breathalyzers tied to the ignition systems of DUI drivers would go along way, but currently both Pennsylvania and New Jersey only require them for repeat offenders.
Both states, however, have bills in their respective state senates that are clearing hurdles and would make breath tests mandatory for first time offenders, every time they start the car.