St. J PD Cracking Down On Drunk Driving

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StJCopCarST. JOHNSBURY - New funding for sobriety and safety checkpoints in St. Johnsbury means an increase in their fight against drunk driving, the department says. Starting this week, the department says they'll be conducting checkpoints more often thanks to new funding from the Governor's Highway Safety Program.

The program provides federal funding for patrols and enforcement againt drunk driving in communities across the state.

Law enforcement officers will also be enforcing seatbelt, child restraint, and other motor vehicle laws during the  checkpoints, according to a press release from the department last week.

"One of the great things is that we have that moment of contact with the driver as they're going through the check point," said Chief Clement Houde. "We're able to say 'hi', let them know why we're out there, we're trying to deter drunk driving and that sort of thing. Anytime you can remind people the dangers of drunk driving is important."

Houde said the funding will offer paid-time for officers that are normally off-shift to help out with the checkpoints.

"There are certain standards, federal and state, that we have to abide by at that checkpoint as to who we stop and how often we stop a vehicle," Houde said. "Any DUI is too much, we're always running the risk of somebody getting hurt of killed. So we want to bring that down to zero."

According to the department, on average almost one-third of all fatal crashes are caused by impaired drivers and more than half of all deaths involve people who did not buckle up.

Follow Tyler Dumont on Twitter @VCCJ_Tyler