- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Representatives from six law enforcement agencies converged on the U.S. Capitol yesterday to issue a stern warning to motorists: You drink and drive. You lose.

With the U.S. Capitol as a backdrop, a cadre of law enforcement officers from the District, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia turned out in force for an early morning press conference to present the region's first state-through-state sobriety checkpoint blitz.

The law enforcement agencies teamed up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, under the U.S. Department of Transportation, to drive home the point that drinking and driving will not be tolerated.

The Checkpoint Strikeforce program begins today, just in time for the heavy Fourth of July holiday traffic. Thousands of law enforcement officers on thousands of miles of road will be conducting driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoints every week, everywhere, through Jan. 4.

"One thing we know about drunk drivers, they're more concerned about getting caught than being killed [and] sobriety checkpoints have been proven to stop drunk drivers," said Lt. Patrick Burke, traffic coordinator for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, who stood in for Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.

Before a checkpoint demonstration on the Mall, Lt. Burke attempted to dispel the notion that sobriety checkpoints create traffic jams by holding up traffic and are costly.

"Sobriety checkpoints delay drivers for a few moments and police use overtime details that are grant-funded" to pay officers, he said.

Drivers who fail the test will be arrested, Lt. Burke said.

Driving under the influence in the District can bring a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $300.

Drivers who are stopped but who have not been drinking will be given handouts about the hazards of drinking and driving.

"Most people thank us," Lt. Burke said.


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