Officials are hailing the success of a recent DUI checkpoint in North Warren.
On Saturday, May 26, the Warren County and Forest County DUI Task Force conducted the checkpoint on Rt. 62 at the old Quality Market, according to a Conewango Township Police news release.
Participating members came from Conewango Township Police, Youngsville Borough Police, Warren County Sheriff's Office, Warren County Prison, Forest County Sheriff's Office, Warren County Probation and Warren County 911 Center provided on-site Data Terminal for the event. According to the release, Warren City Police and the Warren County District Attorney's Office are also members of the DUI program.
A total of 303 vehicles went through the checkpoint, 23 traffic citations were issued for various violations, numerous warnings were issued, several travelers were educated on proper Child Safety Seat use, several persons were evaluated for sobriety and two people were taken to Warren General Hospital for suspected DUI relative to alcohol and drug use.
Conewango Township Police Chief Jason Peters said the checkpoint went well. He was satisfied with the number of citations and those taken to WGH.
While Peters believes the next checkpoint will be held soon, a date has not been set. When traveling through a checkpoint, he recommended being mindful of the surroundings and have license, registration and insurance readily available.
Carl McKee, Adult Probation director, said the location was chosen based on accident statistics from PennDOT. They tried to select a high record of accidents related to alcohol and DUI arrests in the past, he said, and the major roadways in the county are Rt. 62 and Rt. 6 so they looked at those two.
On Rt. 62 in North Warren, McKee said there is a high incident rate, and it's an area where the task force is actively seeking enforcement.
"We had a higher traffic volume than in any previous checkpoint," McKee said. "We weren't surprised."
From an administrative point of view, McKee said he was happy with the location. The checkpoint kept up with the traffic, he said, with officers letting traffic clear a few times to prevent backed-up traffic from posing a safety issue.
Special events contributed to the large number of travelers, McKee said, and included fireworks in Russell and races. He was pleased with the performance of the officers and how receptive the public was.
"It's typical once we put out signs the first person to go through with a cell phone calls the local bar and says where the checkpoint is at," McKee said. "We know many of the drinking public know where we are at and can avoid us."
To counter that, McKee said perimeter patrols are used later in the evening. When people find out a checkpoint is occurring, he said they tend to go home early, not drink as much and find safe and sober transportation.
In several vehicles, McKee said there were four or five people who were drunk, but the driver was sober. They knew there was a checkpoint and called for a ride.
"That's what we want them to do," McKee said. "On this occasion, they changed their behavior."
With roving patrols, McKee said officers can make more arrests. The checkpoints are an in-your-face event, he said, and allow law enforcement to contact a lot of people and increases the perceived likelihood of being arrested.
When DUI arrests are up, McKee said, alcohol-related accidents are down. Therefore, officials know enforcement works.