Swarms of police officers patrolling for drunken drivers will join the ranks of summer staples such as poolside parties and outdoor barbecues this year in Howard County.
About 40 additional Maryland State Police troopers and many extra Howard County officers will patrol for drunken drivers, underage drinkers and illegal alcohol sales today through this weekend, Lt. Tom Gardner, commander of the Maryland State Police Waterloo Barrack, said yesterday.
Combined efforts of Howard police and state troopers to crack down on drunken driving will continue into September.
The focus on drunken driving is part of an effort to ready Maryland residents for the Sept. 30 change in the legal blood-alcohol level from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent.
"The state has asked us to do saturation patrols once a month in the interim in preparation for the change," said county police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.
Sometime between tomorrow and this weekend, police will operate two DWI checkpoints in Howard County, Gardner said. Police would not release the location of the checkpoints or the specific timeframe during which they will occur.
Howard police also will participate in a saturation patrol this week, during which "as many officers as reasonably possible will be out," Llewellyn said. "It's a significantly higher number of officers than on a regular evening."
Although police presence is always increased around the Fourth of July, this year's efforts have placed "more of an emphasis on DWI offenses" because of a statewide effort to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents that result in injuries, Gardner said.
"We're partnering to combat the problem of alcohol abuse in Howard County," he said of the joint effort of state and county police.
Howard residents can expect to see an increased police presence on the roadways, Gardner said. Police also will be work to ensure that store owners and employees who sell alcohol are checking for proper identification to avoid selling to minors, he said.