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Saturday detail

County DUI Task Force runs checkpoint

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Officer Charlie Anderson works a DUI checkpoint on Saturday night in Youngsville.

PennDOT data shows that roughly 300 people across the Commonwealth died as a direct result of alcohol-related crashes in 2019.

Further, about 37 percent of those fatalities occur before and after Labor Day weekend.

The Warren County DUI Task Force was out in force on Saturday night in response.

Law enforcement from around the county — Youngsville, Conewango Township, City of Warren, Sheriff’s Office — along with probation from Warren and Forest counties, Department of Public Safety staff and the Warren County District Attorney’s office came together under the auspices of the Task Force to run a checkpoint on US 6 in Youngsville.

Warren County Task Force DUI Coordinator Todd Mineweaser said that the Task Force runs two to three checkpoints each year. The funds come from the federal government via PennDOT.

K9 Dina and Officer Tom Kibbey sweep a vehicle for possible drugs during a DUI checkpoint held on Saturday night outside Youngsville.

Both lanes of US 6 were stopped starting about 10:30 p.m. with the expectation that the effort would wrap up around 4 a.m.

Mineweaser said Task Force officers were out on roving patrols Labor Day weekend.

He said other Task Forces throughout the state have reported fewer cars through the checkpoint with COVID-19 as the likely cause.

He added that the effort is voluntary for the officers that choose to participate.

On Saturday, it took less than half an hour to stop some suspected of driving under the influence.

Mineweaser said the checkpoint was a “very successful operation.

“(We) are seeing a problem with drugs on our highways with medical marijuana on the rise,” he explained. “Recreation will make it impossible to keep up.”

A total of 147 vehicles were stopped with the one DUI arrest but eight traffic citations were issued in addition to six written warnings and eight verbal warnings.

Five additional criminal arrests were made for drugs, one male provided a fake name and date of birth and one wanted person was arrested.

“He just happened to drive into our checkpoint where officers recognized him,” Mineweaser said.

Two open container violations were issued and the citations, he said, were for expired registration and inspections, no insurance and drivers required to be licensed.

Mineweaser emphasized the importance of carrying a hard copy of those documents, noting that lack of cell service for people to pull the information up on their phone resulted in citations.

For vehicles where the presence of drugs was suspected, K9 Dina was called into action.

“Safety is number one,” Mineweaser said during a briefing before the checkpoint. “We want to go home safe.”

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