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W.Va. DUI 'blitz' nets 67 arrests

March 05, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A statewide “blitz” by the West Virginia State Police last weekend resulted in 67 arrests for driving under the influence, with more than a third of the DUIs tallied in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

“I’ve got some very hardworking, very dedicated troopers,” Troop 2 Captain R.A. Blair said Tuesday when asked about arrest figures released Tuesday.

Troopers assigned to detachments in Martinsburg and Charles Town made 24 arrests from Friday through Sunday as part of the blitz, police said. There were no DUI arrests in Morgan County, Blair said.

Troopers assigned in a seven-county region of eastern West Virginia that Blair commands made 31 of the 67 arrests statewide and six troopers in the region had multiple DUI arrests, he said.

In addition to DUI, troopers in Berkeley and Jefferson counties arrested three motorists with driving on a revoked license for DUI and two others were arrested/cited for driving suspended for non-DUI, Martinsburg Detachment commander J.D. Burkhart said Tuesday.

“Our guys did an outstanding job over the weekend,” Burkhart said of the 18 troopers who participated in the blitz.

Troopers in the two counties initiated 24 felony arrests and made another five misdemeanor arrests, not including DUI, according to figures Burkhart released.

Four individuals were arrested for drugs and $180 worth of illegal narcotics were seized and two fugitives were arrested, Burkhart said. Troopers in the two counties issued 123 warnings and 42 citations, Burkhart said.

Blair said one man arrested for DUI in Jefferson County was wanted on 24 felony charges in another state. He could not say how many out-of-state residents were arrested for DUI over the weekend, but suspected there were a significant number simply because of the region’s location.

Blair said he doesn’t know if the sheer number of DUI arrests means that there are more drunks on the road, but said the campaign shows that drinking and driving is a “very serious” problem in the community.

Blair said he hoped the campaign, which was made possible by federal funding channeled through the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, saved lives and sends a message to the community.

State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said Tuesday in a news release that troopers statewide arrested two fugitives, and made 54 felony arrests and 91 misdemeanor arrests.

Fifty-three people received citations for speeding, according to Baylous.

State police Supt. Col. Jay Smithers said 67 DUI arrests in one weekend are disheartening.

“Obviously some motorists are not getting the message that driving under the influence has negative consequences,” Smithers said in the news release.

“Ideally, we would like to conduct such a blitz and see no arrests for driving under the influence. Until that happens, we must continue to educate the public on the hazards of such reckless behavior.”

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