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Athens-Clarke police report 18 DUI arrests in recent checkpoints

Reporters for the University of Georgia's independent student newspaper did some digging around and discovered that in just five recent checkpoints conducted by Athens-Clarke County police more than a dozen DUI arrests were made. More than 1,200 drivers were pulled over during the stops, which are conducted at random and in various locations throughout the year in the Athens-Clarke County area.

When local police conduct checkpoints, they typically stop drivers to make sure that the individuals have valid driver's licenses and are wearing their seatbelts. Police will also look over vehicles to see if there are any equipment violations such as a taillight or headlight that is out. But we all know that during these checkpoints, police will also be paying attention to one's speech and reactions in order to determine if a driver is intoxicated.

According to a lieutenant with the Athens-Clarke County Traffic Division, the checkpoints are done at random when there are enough officers on schedule to conduct the stops. He said that police don't set expectations for the number of citations issued during the stops, but police typically focus on catching drunk drivers in the evening and citing drivers for other violations during the day.

The lieutenant reported that although some might assume more students are arrested for DUI since many college students live in the area, the average age of individuals who are accused of driving drunk is 30.

According to The Red and Black, the most recent checkpoints were all conducted during the weekends close to downtown Athens between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 2:10 a.m., and the checkpoints typically lasted about 40 minutes. As many as 537 drivers were stopped during just one checkpoint.

Arrests of individuals suspected of drinking and driving have totaled 18 during the five most recent checkpoints in the area. About 800 DUI arrests are made in the area every year, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

Source: The Red and Black, "Only 18 DUI arrests made during the previous five police checkpoints," Megan Ernst, Jan. 17, 2012