DUI efforts in Panhandle area effective, state police say

July 24, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Northfield, Minn., man charged with driving under the influence for at least the fourth time was one of 10 motorists that West Virginia State Police troopers arrested at a sobriety checkpoint over the weekend.

Nathan Alan Olson, 29, was arrested about 11:30 p.m. Saturday by 1st Lt. S.R. Dawson during the checkpoint along U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Olson was arraigned by Magistrate Harry L. Snow on DUI third offense, a felony, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana less than 15 grams, according to court records. Though Olson already was convicted of DUI for a third time in Minnesota in 2001 according to Dawson's complaint, West Virginia State Police Sgt. E.D. Burnett said Monday that West Virginia code doesn't provide for a "fourth" offense to be levied.

Even with 10 arrests over the weekend, the number of DUI arrests has decreased slightly over the past year, Burnett said in a news release.


"It was not uncommon to have 15 to 20 DUI arrests in Berkeley County during any given checkpoint."

Burnett later confirmed that Berkeley County in recent years had set a somewhat notorious nationwide sobriety checkpoint record, with more than 20 people arrested for DUI during a single operation.

Burnett said a large number of people who traveled through the checkpoint between 10 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday were "designated drivers" and cabbies.

He attributed that to the efforts of area law enforcement agencies to crack down on DUI, particularly during late-night hours.

"It appears that our efforts in this area have been effective," Burnett said. "This is due in part to the special overtime funds that are afforded to the West Virginia State Police through grants."

In addition to the DUI charges, Burnett said officers during the checkpoint arrested four people for driving with a suspended license and two each for permitting DUI and drug possession.

Police issued 45 citations and gave out 97 warnings during the checkpoint, Burnett said.

In December 2006, State Police Superintendent Col. D.L. Lemmon noted in his annual report to Gov. Joe Manchin that troopers based in Martinsburg reported 250 of the 548 DUI arrests in the seven eastern counties that comprise Troop 2 in the 2006 fiscal year. The fiscal year ended June 30, 2006.

The arrest tally topped all other troops, Lemmon said. The second highest number of reported DUI arrests - 365 - came from Troop 4, a 10-county district that includes Charleston and Parkersburg, W.Va., according to Lemmon's report.

In the 2005 fiscal year, Lemmon reported that Troop 2's officers again led the state, reporting 614 DUI arrests, 272 of them reported from Martinsburg's detachment.

DUI arrests

Number of DUI arrests reported by West Virginia State Police detachments of Troop 2 for the 2006 fiscal year, ending June 30, 2006:

Charles Town 113
Martinsburg 250
Berkeley Springs 22
Romney 72
Keyser 40
Moorefield 51

Total: 548

For the 2005 fiscal year ending June 30, 2005:

Charles Town 172
Martinsburg 272
Berkeley Springs 21
Romney 90
Keyser 29
Moorefield 30

Total: 614

Source: 2005 annual report by West Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. D.L. Lemmon

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