MIDDLESEX COUNTY — Police have been setting up sobriety checkpoints around the county as part of an effort to keep motorists safe during the holiday season, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced yesterday.
Since the latest round of checks began on Nov. 12, police have issued 159 summonses for a variety of motor vehicle offenses, including the arrests of nine motorists who have been charged with driving while intoxicated.
The sobriety checkpoint program, now in its 25th year, has been operated successfully by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Fatal Crash Investigations Unit and various municipal police departments, which have been randomly stationing checkpoints around the county to stop impaired drivers.
The sobriety checkpoints will continue through New Year’s Day, and may be set up in any municipality, and on any road, to deter motorists from becoming impaired and then driving in Middlesex County.
The effort is being financed with a portion of a $43,000 grant from the New Jersey Division of Highway and Traffic Safety. The grant has been sufficient to finance the establishment of sobriety checkpoints during the high school prom and graduation season and at other times throughout the year.
“Since sobriety checkpoints were set up in Middlesex County, the number of people arrested and charged with impaired driving has dropped dramatically,” Kaplan said.
“This shows that efforts by the Fatal Crash Investigations Unit and our municipal police departments have been successful in changing the attitudes of motorists, who are learning the importance of driving soberly and understand the consequences of driving while impaired,” Kaplan said.
The purpose of the program has been to take intoxicated drivers off the roads, educate the public about the dangers of impaired driving and deter people from getting behind the wheel after using alcohol or drugs.
“The overall goal of the program is to make sure that holiday travelers arrive at their destinations safely,” Kaplan said.
He said the program continues as part of an on-going effort to educate the motoring public of the dangers of impaired driving.
Since the beginning of 2010, there have been 34 fatal collisions in Middlesex County. Twelve have involved the use of alcohol or drugs.
First-time offenders run the risk of losing their driving privileges for at least seven months and face a variety of fines, insurance surcharges and legal fees that could total as much as $15,000.
Since the safe holiday travel program began last month, police have stopped 1,909 vehicles at sobriety checkpoints that were set up in North Brunswick and Plainsboro.
In addition to the arrests of nine individuals on DWI charges, police issued summonses for a variety of motor vehicle offenses. Police also arrested six people on drug possession charges and two others were arrested on outstanding criminal arrest warrants.
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