Area law enforcement targets drunk drivers

Posted: August 16, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Local police and deputies will be out in force through Labor Day to crack down on drunk drivers.

“The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and its deputies will be aggressively looking for drunk drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone caught driving drunk,” said Sheriff’s Office traffic supervisor Deputy Warren Gosnell in a media release.

The effort is part of a nationwide campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The crackdown, which will include “high-visibility enforcement” throughout Frederick County and Winchester, will run from today through Sept. 2.

The effort is supported by national paid advertising, creating a comprehensive campaign to curb drunken driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 30 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes on weekends are alcohol-impaired.

According to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office media release, there will be sobriety checkpoints from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. today and on Aug. 23 at undisclosed locations.

Additionally, deputies will be out in increased numbers for “roaming patrols” Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with emphasis placed on detecting and pursing the arrest of drunk drivers.

Winchester Police Department spokeswoman Lauren Cummings said there will also be checkpoints in the city, as well as patrols searching for drunken drivers through Labor Day as part of the campaign.

“The extra enforcement is just one way of making sure that drivers are making the right choice to not get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking,” she said.

A first-time driving-under-the-influence charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, loss of a driver’s license for one year and the installment of an ignition interlock device in a vehicle for six months.

An ignition interlock device senses if there is alcohol on someone’s breath and prevents them from starting their vehicle if any is detected.

Typically, if there are no aggravating factors in a case, a first-time DUI offender will get 120 days in jail with all time suspended, a $500 fine with $250 suspended, and an order to complete an alcohol safety and prevention program.

This is in addition to individuals losing their license for one year and being required to have an ignition interlock in their vehicle for six months.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com