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Police Checkpoints Target Drunk Drivers

Officers were on the lookout for people driving while intoxicated over the weekend.

Late-night drivers on Route 28 encountered an unusual sight near Lee Highway over the weekend: bright blinking blue lights coming from cruisers parked on the side of the road, and police stopping virtually every car.

Nearly 20 auxiliary police and officers from stations all over the county worked a sobriety checkpoint in Centreville, starting at 11:30 p.m. Friday and ending around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Over 700 drivers passed through. Checkpoints will rotate between districts about once a week for the next few months, with the next one to be held in the Mount Vernon District. There's also roving patrols. 

"This is about educating the community," said Sgt. Joseph Flynn, of the . He said that while catching drunk drivers is important to the police, one of the main points of the checkpoints is to let people know that officers are looking for people driving while intoxicated. 

There's certainly no shortage of alcohol-related arrests. In 2010, there were 473 DWI arrests in the Sully District alone. This year there have already been almost 150 arrests, along with 18 crashes attributed to alcohol. 

Officers stopped cars, asking for licenses and questions like where people were headed, as a way to try and test alertness. Those who officers thought needed to take a sobriety test were directed to the side of the road, where they walked one foot after the other on yellow lines or counted to four and backwards. At the start of the checkpoint, there were relatively few pulled over, but the pace quickened considerably as the evening wore on.

Those who've taken part in a checkpoint before have seen just about everything. Drivers sometimes run out and abandon their cars on the side of the road to be towed, rather then pass through the checkpoint.

While there wasn't anyone who left their car on the side of the road Friday, police did make several arrests. One woman, after struggling to put one foot in front of the other on the yellow line, failed to pass a breathalyzer and was arrested for a DWI. Another man, who said he hadn't realized putting a gun under the car seat was illegal under state law, was cuffed for carrying a concealed weapon. 

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