Commonwealth Journal

Local News

September 16, 2013

Alcohol in Somerset: Year 1 a success


Somerset —

And, he added, Bradley expects to see “continued interest” in new restaurants — if “little by little.”
The Roads
Technically, it’s true: DUI (driving under the influence) numbers reported by the Somerset Police Department have risen in the last year.
“Nobody expects DUI or alcohol-related arrests to go down after alcohol sales were votes in,” said Capt. Shannon Smith of SPD. “We knew that with the availability of alcohol, we would likely see an increase.”
However, Smith is quick to stress that alcohol sales alone can’t be blamed for that rise. Hidden inside the numbers are a myriad of factors that have led to the numerical rise — including one that has nothing to do with alcohol whatsoever.
“We can’t say that the increase we have seen is totally related to alcohol,” said Smith. “Overall, (being “wet”) has not complicated law enforcement for Somerset Police.”
From September 1, 2011 to Sept. 1, 2012, SPD made 172 arrests for impaired driving. For the same period of time 2012 to 2013 — the period during which alcohol has been legal in Somerset — police made 249 such arrests.
Specific numbers on other alcohol-related offenses weren’t available by this publication. However, Smith said police haven’t seen a “noticeable increase” on alcohol intoxication calls or arrests.
As for driving under the influence, Smith listed four factors that have contributed to the increase of a little under 80 arrests in a year’s time:
• Annexation of 50 new miles of roadway into the city provided a lot more territory for police to cover, raising the potential number of DUIs they could make over that of the areas they patrolled in the past.
Smith noted that Somerset roads covered about 25 miles before last year; with that number effectively tripled now, “that increases responsibility for traffic enforcement significantly,” he said.
• Last spring, SPD restructured its TAP (traffic alcohol program), making it easier for officers to work overtime for DUI enforcement. 

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