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DUI arrests on the rise

Published August 20. 2019 12:30PM

The Pennsylvania State Police announced Monday that troopers made 20,143 DUI arrests in 2018, which reflects a 1 percent increase from the total number of DUI arrests (19,963) in 2017.

In addition, troopers investigated 4,926 DUI-related crashes in 2018.

“First responders see the devastating effects of impaired driving every day,” said Col. Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “Through a combination of education and enforcement, we continue to work with our law enforcement and safety partners to address this serious issue.”

In Pennsylvania, a driver is guilty of DUI if they are impaired by any substance, including alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter medication, and illicit drugs.

Troopers certified as drug recognition experts receive specialized training to identify the physiological signs of impairment caused by a wide range of controlled substances. State police drug recognition experts conducted 758 drug influence evaluations in 2018.

The troops that cover the Times News region are Troop L, which includes Frackville, with 832 DUI arrests, 262 DUI crashes and 37 DRE evaluations; Troop M, which includes Lehigh County, 1,366 DUI arrests, 294 DUI crashes and 51 DRE evaluations, and Troop N, which includes Carbon and Monroe counties, with 1,489 DUI arrests, 302 DUI crashes and 54 DRE evaluations.

State police community service officers regularly speak about DUI prevention and other traffic safety topics at schools, community events, and businesses. Their presentations are offered at no charge and may be requested by contacting your local state police station.

“Troopers have a zero-tolerance approach toward impaired driving but would rather prevent a DUI by educating drivers than arrest them or respond to a DUI-related crash,” Evanchick said. “Every motorist has the responsibility to keep themselves and others safe by wearing their seat belt, eliminating distractions, and never driving while impaired.”

Penalties for a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania are based on several factors, including an individual’s criminal history, blood alcohol content level, and whether injuries or property damage occurred. Potential consequences include thousands of dollars in fines, a license suspension, and prison time.

Tougher penalties might help. When a driver gets 2 DUIs in a 3 month period, has a blood alcohol level exceeding the limit 3 fold, and does $25,000 plus in property damage, and assaults several police officers in those 2 incidents rehab for 6 months and fines is simply not enough of a consequence.

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