Provided by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office:
Still nursing that fifth from the Fourth? Better lay off if you plan to hit the roads this weekend, or police will have some legal fireworks awaiting you.
The Bucks County DUI Task Force will conduct a checkpoint Friday night into Saturday morning along the Newtown Bypass from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Anyone found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be subject to arrest.
Twenty-one officers from nine municipal police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police will operate the checkpoint in the westbound lanes of the bypass approaching the Sycamore Street intersection.
Participating municipal departments include Bensalem, Doylestown, Middletown, Newtown, Tinicum, Warrington and Warwick Townships, and Penndel and Quakertown Boroughs.
Drinking and driving remains a key safety issue in Pennsylvania. In 2016, 25 percent of traffic fatalities statewide – a total of 297 deaths – were alcohol-related, according to statistics released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
On the positive side, alcohol-related traffic deaths were down 14 percent last year in Pennsylvania, and alcohol-related crashes decreased from 10,558 to 10,256.
This weekend’s enforcement will be the countywide task force’s first DUI checkpoint since March 17-18, St. Patrick’s Day, when police arrested nine drivers for DUI along Route 611 in Warrington Township. Two motorists and a passenger also were charged with drug possession and paraphernalia that night, and two underage drinking citations were issued.
“The week of July 4th is a great time to celebrate our country’s independence with family and friends,” said District Attorney Matthew Weintraub. “Please celebrate responsibly. Don’t drink or do drugs and drive.”
While many jurisdictions committed added patrols to July 4 itself, statistics show that weekends preceding and following weekday holidays can be just as deadly.
Last year, 208 alcohol-related crashes occurred in Pennsylvania during the weekends before and after July 4. Seven people died in those crashes, PennDOT reported, in addition to six fatalities on the weekday holiday itself.
“Research shows a 20 percent drop in drunk-driving deaths, injuries and crashes when checkpoints are conducted,” said Malcolm Friend, program manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Pennsylvania. “Just a brief sobriety checkpoint stop is a small inconvenience compared to the greater good of keeping impaired drivers off the road.”
Friend called drunken driving “100 percent preventable, 100 percent of the time … Before leaving home the best plan is to establish how you are getting back if your plans are to include alcohol. Designate a non-drinking driver, call a ride-share service such as Uber, use a taxi or take public transportation.”
The efforts of the task force – the oldest county-wide impaired driving enforcement program in Pennsylvania – are funded largely through a continuing federal safety grant administered through PennDOT.
For more than a decade, Impaired Driving Program grants have been provided through PennDOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania DUI Association. The grants help pay for salary reimbursement for officers who participate in the program, as well as for equipment used in DUI enforcement.