Drunk driving: Checkpoints on the way

Published 9:14 pm Friday, December 25, 2009

‘Tis the season for driving under the influence of alcohol, and the Suffolk Police Department is cracking down on it and other traffic violations throughout the holidays.

The department held a checkpoint on Nansemond Parkway on Dec. 12, and it went well, said Police Chief Thomas Bennett.

“I was very pleased with it,” Bennett said. The seven-hour checkpoint, held from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., netted three driving under the influence of alcohol arrests, three drug arrests, one weapons arrest and 48 traffic tickets, for everything from defective equipment to fake inspection stickers to driving with a revoked license.

More checkpoints are coming, Bennett said, though he declined to say when or where. The checkpoints help curb traffic problems during the holidays, Bennett said.

“I hope it makes people think a little bit more with regard to drinking and driving if they know the police are going to be a little more aggressive,” Bennett said. “Typically, when there’s parties and maybe a little bit more drinking, it’s a good time of the year for the police department to put more emphasis on that problem.”

The drinking and driving problem has increased in Suffolk this month, Bennett said.

“I’ve seen a bunch of DUI arrests this month, more than normal,” Bennett said. Many of the arrests have occurred after an accident caused by drinking and driving, he said.

Though the checkpoints are hard on the force, requiring more than 20 officers to stand in the cold for hours, Bennett said, the extra enforcement activity is beneficial to the city.

“We’re going to be a bit more active on traffic than we have been in the past,” Bennett said.

Studies have shown that sobriety checkpoints reduce alcohol-related crashes by about 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results are similar regardless of duration, the research shows.