Police charge 40 motorists with DWI Shortage of money meant no holiday driver checkpoints.

January 02, 1992|By Frank D. Roylance and William B. Talbott | Frank D. Roylance and William B. Talbott,Evening Sun Staff

Despite all the warnings against drinking and driving, plenty of people apparently mixed the two as the New Year arrived.

State Police spokesman Chuck Jackson said troopers caught 40 of them between 6 p.m. Tuesday and early New Year's Day.

The 40 were charged with driving while intoxicated, and 24 of them had their driver's licenses confiscated when they refused to take a breath test or took it and failed.

Jackson said this was the first New Year's Eve since 1982 that troopers have not scheduled a well-publicized sobriety checkpoint to screen traffic for intoxicated drivers, although others have been canceled by bad weather.

The reasons this time were budgetary. "There is no overtime and no money to do checkpoints," he said.

But field officers in the barracks were given the authority to deploy officers as best they could to address the problem of holiday drinking and driving.

"A saturation force" of patrolling troopers was deployed on certain highways "focusing on trouble spots," Jackson said.

High police presence did not prevent all accidents, of course.

In Hagerstown, Charles Butts, 19, lost control of his automobile on Interstate 70 just west of Md. 65 about 4 a.m. yesterday.

State Police said Butts, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the car, which then rolled several times. Butts was taken to the Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, where he was listed today in serious condition.

Among those who refused to take a breath test was a 19-year-old Carroll County woman who was stopped by troopers from the Westminster Barracks, Jackson said.

Ten years of sobriety checkpoints set up by the State Police have netted troopers 500 drunken-driving arrests among the more than 60,000 drivers stopped.

Jackson said troopers noticed during their patrols Tuesday night and yesterday morning that hotel parking lots remained full throughout the night, suggesting that many of those who attended New Year's Eve parties decided to rent rooms and spend the night rather than risk accidents or arrest by trying to drive home.

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