UMD police are cracking down on drunk driving arrests

A UMD Police officer talks to a driver. (File photo/The Diamondback)

Police made five arrests Thursday night as more than 2,500 vehicles passed through two College Park sobriety checkpoints amid a crackdown on drunk driving.

The checkpoints were a collaborative effort between University of Maryland Police, state police and Prince George’s County Police, said University Police spokesperson Rosanne Hoaas.

“On drunk driving, we’re hitting it out of the park, especially lately,” said University Police chief David Mitchell. “We’ve got some graduates, new officers who graduate and hit the street, and they are always great with hunting down drunk drivers.”

[Read more: Here’s what it’s like to be a UMD Police officer on a Friday night]

Through the first three months of 2019, University Police made 72 DUI/DWI arrests, compared with 57 during the same period in 2018, according to data provided by Hoaas — more than a 25 percent increase. University Police made seven arrests over the first 10 days of April, Hoaas said.

Mitchell said the department’s DUI/DWI arrests typically don’t involve students — but students are often placed in the greatest danger as a result, he added, especially on Knox Road and Route 1.

“I’m not looking for tickets,” he said. “I’m looking for safety.”

About 800 vehicles passed through the county police checkpoint on westbound University Boulevard near Terrapin Trail Thursday night, wrote department spokesperson Jennifer Donelan. That checkpoint resulted in five arrests, she wrote.

Among the 1,755 vehicles that passed through the University Police and state police checkpoint on the eastbound side, no arrests were made, although eight vehicles were pulled aside for further evaluation, Hoaas said.

[Read more: UMD Police release data on conduct, use of force for 2018]

Of those vehicles, five were evaluated for the use of marijuana and one male driver was issued a civil citation for possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana, Hoaas said.

The checkpoint ran from about 7:45 to 10:30 p.m., she said.

Hoaas said University Police averages about two sobriety checkpoints a year. Although University Police didn’t make any arrests in Thursday’s operation, she said it was a good thing that fewer people were driving under the influence.

Hoaas said the checkpoint was to support this university’s DUI Institute — a joint program between the Public Health School and the Maryland Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office.

“The message is getting out there and people are listening,” she said. “It’s not just about enforcement, it’s also education and letting people know we are cracking down.”

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