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St. Robert gears up for more drunk driving checkpoints during August
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Aug. 1, 2009) — Police and firefighters are gearing up for another crackdown on drunk driving this month in St. Robert, according to Sgt. Butch Hohman, the head of the traffic enforcement division for the city’s police department.

“A new month is coming and to try and reduce the amount of alcohol-related traffic accidents and alcohol-related driving offenses, the St. Robert Police Department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and other enforcement activities throughout the month,” Hohman said in a prepared statement. “So if you enter a checkpoint reduce your speed and be patient; you will only be detained a short time, then you will be on your way.”

Hohman asked drivers to keep in mind that drunk drivers kill more people in one year than any other criminal act. Nationally, that means more than 17,800 people were killed in alcohol related traffic crashes in 2006. About 41 percent of all traffic deaths in the United States are related to alcohol, Hohman said.

Last month’s DWI checkpoint on the night of July 4 and early morning of July 5 showed that about 2 percent of St. Robert drivers are still drunk behind the wheel between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., despite an aggressive grant-funded program that pays overtime for local police to dedicate extra time to stopping drunk driving.

In St. Robert, that means police officers work together with city firefighters and volunteers from Mark Twain REACT to set up a police checkpoint on a major city street with extra lighting and manpower provided by firefighters and others. Locations vary, but in the past have included Old Route 66 and Highway Z since those roads have several locations with an adjacent parking lot where suspected drunk drivers can be pulled off the road and checked for alcohol consumption without delaying most drivers longer than needed for a brief check.

During the July checkpoint on Old Route 66, police stopped 279 vehicles, resulting in seven people being charged with driving while intoxicated, two passengers being charged with being minors in possession of alcohol by consumption and one person being charged with driving with a suspended license.

According to statistics provided by St. Robert police, 243 people died in more than 7,780 alcohol-related traffic crashes in Missouri in 2007, the last year for which complete statistics are available. That corresponds to a death or injury every 1.7 hours.

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