“That lead to an increase — not necessarily an increase in arrests, but an increase in the number of officers out there looking for impaired drivers,” said Smith.
• Between the beginning of May and the end of June of this year, local law enforcement conducted a series of eight sobriety checks — six actual checkpoints and two “saturation details” utilizing the help of other law enforcement agencies for a collective approach to combating impaired driving.
Some of these were within the traditional limits and some on the newly-annexed portions; all were on main roads, including North U.S. 27, Ky. 914, West Ky. 80, and others.
The end result, said Smith was 17 arrests for DUI over that eight-weekend period.
“We checked about 2,000 vehicles during those eight checkpoints,” said Smith. “Do the math on a rate of 17 out of 2,000.
“As a whole, we thought with the first summer with alcohol sales, with that amount of time and effort spent on our checkpoints, that our DUI numbers would have been a lot higher,” he added. “Could that be because we’ve made a strong presence and a lot of people know the stance Somerset Police is taking on impaired driving, or is the overall program of education and stressed importance of designated drivers working better than it ever has? It’s hard to tell.”
• Finally, what isn’t shown in stark numbers is what drivers are impaired by — and it’s not always alcohol. Smith said that it’s difficult to tell from the statistics who was taking what, but many impaired drivers on the roads are that way because of prescription drug abuse.
“It’s just as big a problem,” said Smith. “We do have a significant amount of DUIs because of driving (after taking) prescription pain medication. It’s just as big (a number) as those driving under alcohol impairment.”