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Officers take aim at drunk, drugged driving

December 09, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Drunken- and drugged-driving incidents may be down in Washington County, but area police and health agencies say they won't rest until the roads are safe.

This was the message at Thursday's kickoff of Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month at Children's Village of Washington County.

Andrea Harris, program director of the Washington County Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program, said that in the United States, one death every 33 minutes is attributed to drunken driving.

"The reason incidents are down is because of stronger laws and more awareness," Harris said. She said, however, agencies must remain vigilant.

During the current holiday season, Maryland State Police plan to have a sobriety checkpoint in Washington County, according to Sgt. G.R. Turano.

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"There have been 16 fatal accidents in Washington County so far in 1999 and only one involved alcohol," Turano said, and attributed that to enforcement efforts.

Lt. Doug Mullendore of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said drunken driving arrests are up for his agency. "But we've increased our patrols and will continue to do so through the holidays," he said.

Chief Don Gossage of Hancock tied the increase in drunken driving arrests in his jurisdiction to his zero tolerance policy.

"In addition, we are also specially targeting underage drinking," Gossage said.

Officer Michael Neuland of Smithsburg said he is increasing his hours during the holidays to include midnight to 4 a.m. patrols.

Doug Shumaker of Antietam Cab Co. said his drivers will give drunken drivers rides to their homes free of charge.

"We also will provide free rides to teens who find themselves without a sober person to drive them home," Shumaker said.

This holiday season, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) from Boonsboro and North Hagerstown high schools erected a Christmas tree at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

The tree, intended to impart the safety message to holiday travelers as they disembark, suggests: "Be The Life Of The Party, Be The Designated Driver."

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