Police in the D.C. region are ready to step up checkpoints, sobriety tests and arrests as part of a nationwide, two-week crackdown drunken driving that begins Friday.
About 10,000 people die in drunken driving wrecks each year. About 70 percent of them are caused by someone whose blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Washington-area police and federal highway officials staged a checkpoint Tuesday to promote the crackdown that runs through Labor Day.
“If you're not driving sober, you're going to be pulled over,” Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said. “Your chances of getting caught are greater today than they’ve ever been, so we hope we’re sending a clear message that people need to drive safely and don't drink and drive.”
“And the bottom line and the best rule of thumb is, if you’ve been drinking, do not get behind the wheel – period,” D.C. Police Lt. Nicholas Breul said.
Officials displayed devices that can detect drunken driving and block vehicles from starting. Actors played the roles.
D.C. police are still trying to get a new breath test approved for the city, but officials said a planned start date now won't come until after August.
Federal officials said breath tests are crucial.
“It’s essential,” said David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “It is the core of proving if you’re over the limit.”
Officials are reaching out to all drivers because there's no profile of the typical drunken driver, they said.
“Age-wise, gender, race, ethnicity, everybody,” Manger said. “We see folks from every part of the community.”