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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
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Don't Rely on the Luck O' the Irish! Police Checkpoint to Crack Down on Buzzed St. Patty's Day Drivers

March 14, 2016

Contact: Matt Weintraub, 215.340.8159, mdweintraub@buckscounty.org

Not even the storied luck of the Irish can make drinking and driving an acceptable, or consequence-free, combination.

Not even on St. Patrick’s Day. Especially not this year for drivers in the Newtown area of Bucks County.

That’s because, from 10 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday, officers from 10 municipal departments in Bucks County and the Pennsylvania State Police will operate a stationary, fully staffed checkpoint on the Newtown Bypass.

All passing vehicles will be stopped at the checkpoint, where drivers will be observed for signs of impairment. Drivers who appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be subjected to field sobriety tests and possibly arrest.

The reason for added vigilance on St. Patrick’s Day is borne out clearly in statistics. While overindulgence is more rampant when the holiday falls on a weekend, there is always a spike in drunken driving and accidents on March 17 and surrounding days.

Nationally, 276 lives were lost in drunken-driving crashes over St. Patrick’s Day weekends from 2009 to 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year in Pennsylvania, there were 1,089 alcohol-related crashes during the weekends before and after St. Patrick’s Day, resulting in 10 fatalities, according to preliminary data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“We understand that people will enjoy themselves on St. Paddy’s Day. But there is no excuse for anyone to drink and drive,” said Matt Weintraub, Chief of Prosecution for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. “There are too many responsible options for people to use instead. Use a designated driver, call a cab, call a parent or a friend, use Uber, to name a few.”

The Newtown checkpoint is the third endeavor in a year-long series of enforcement actions undertaken by a county-wide DUI task force. On hand will be 26 officers from Bensalem, Middletown, Newtown, Plumstead, Solebury, Tinicum, Warrington and Warwick Townships, Newtown and Quakertown Boroughs, and the Pennsylvania State Police.

The goal, as always, is prevention. Task force members want “to have such a visible presence on St. Paddy’s Day and throughout the year that we successfully deter people from driving under the influence in the first place,” Weintraub said.

The efforts of the task force are funded largely through a continuing federal safety grant administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

On Thanksgiving Eve, task force officers arrested 10 motorists on suspicion of DUI during a five-hour saturation patrol along the Street Road corridor. On New Year’s Eve, a similar patrol along Route 611 yielded three DUI charges, one arrest for drug paraphernalia and one for underage drinking. In addition, 61 vehicles were stopped for various safety and/or equipment concerns, and 43 warnings were issued.

“It looks like we had a great deterrent effect,” Weintraub said of the New Year’s Eve results. “I think the word is getting out.”

Because impaired driving is a year-round concern – 23 people died in Bucks County crashes involving drunken drivers in 2013-14 – the task force plans additional roving DUI patrols and checkpoints throughout the coming year. These will be announced as the dates approach.

Bucks County is proud to host the oldest county-wide impaired driving enforcement program in Pennsylvania. For more than a decade, Impaired Driving Program grants have been provided through PennDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in cooperation with the PA DUI Association. The grants help pay for salary reimbursement for officers who participate in the program, as well as for equipment used in DUI enforcement. 


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Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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