University Police officers block traffic during last August’s DUI checkpoint. Police typically make nine arrests in each checkpoint; this August, they made 11.

They could have turned around.

University Police gave drivers on northbound Route 1 three spots where they could have avoided the sobriety checkpoint that netted 11 drunk driving arrests on the night of Aug. 20 and the early hours of Aug. 21, police said.

Under state law, police must publicize the checkpoints — which they set up on Route 1 along the edge of the campus three times a year — and allow motorists a chance to dodge them.

“We went above and beyond in giving people the opportunity to miss the checkpoint if they wished,” police spokesman Paul Dillon said.

Lt. Robert Mueck, who oversaw the checkpoint, offered theories as to why a drunk driver wouldn’t choose to avoid the police.

“I don’t think they’re paying attention,” Mueck said. “It’s either because they’re distracted or because they’re impaired.”

Others don’t realize they are impaired despite being over the legal limit, he said, which is a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08 for of-age drivers and 0.02 for drivers under 21.

“Buzzed driving is drunk driving,” Mueck said.

The 11 DUI arrests are a bit above the norm for the Route 1 checkpoint located at the intersection with Rossborough Drive; the average is nine, and officers arrested nine drivers at last August’s checkpoint, Dillon said.

Only a few students were among those arrested at the checkpoint, Dillon added, which he said has been the norm in his two decades with the department.

Dillon said eight men, two women and a juvenile were arrested at the checkpoint, and one of the women failed to stop and then resisted arrest. Mueck said that’s not really what the department wants when it sets up a checkpoint.

“If we had no arrests, we’d consider it a success,” Mueck said. “The real goal is the prevention aspect.”

University Police have budgeted approximately $20,000 a year to control drunk driving in the area, and Mueck said another checkpoint will stop and check traffic on Route 1 on Sept. 18, the day the Terrapin football team plays at West Virginia.

Shuttle-UM buses run until after 4 a.m. and students can use NITE Ride until 7:30 a.m., options police said serve as alternatives to driving under the influence.

“Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable,” Dillon said. “You cannot get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking.”

Despite the risk of getting caught, some students said they supported police efforts to cut down on drunk driving in College Park.

Senior bioengineering major Eddie Vogel said he is unlikely to drive after a few drinks in College Park because everything is within walking distance.

“The precautions are there but the temptation is still there as well,” Vogel said. “[The] temptation is definitely greater at home.”

Considering the opportunities for intoxicated motorists to avoid the checkpoint, Vogel added he is relieved officers came away with some arrests.

“I support the police,” Vogel said. “With that much of an opportunity to get out of it and they still got caught, they definitively should not be driving.”

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