By Brad Segall

ABINGTON, Pa. (CBS) — Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies fanned out across the county early this morning looking for DUI defendants who have ignored their responsibility to show up for court, for trial or sentencing.

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Deputies targeted the towns of Norristown, Pottstown, Souderton, and Abington, where early-morning knocks on the door resulted in nine people being taken into custody.

Law enforcement officials say there are nearly a thousand outstanding DUI warrants.  The unannounced raids were similar to sheriffs’ efforts to find deadbeat parents.

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“The DUI crimes are the most likely to see crashes where innocent people who are simply minding their own business are killed,” notes Montgomery County district attorney Risa Ferman (far right in photo), “and those cases are absolutely tragic and they can be prevented.”

She says the goal of the new DUI Warrant Task Force program is to identify the defendants who are the highest-risk cases and get them off the streets before they have a chance to reoffend.

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Many of the defendants making their way through the system, Ferman points out, have had multiple DUI arrests.