You may have driven through them once or twice or spotted them up the road, but have you ever been pulled over at a DUI Checkpoint. And do you really have to walk a straight line or say your alphabet backwards to pass? There’s a lot more that goes into running a checkpoint than you may think.
A look at a Chester County DUI Checkpoint
A recent Chester County Daily News article by Jeremy Gerrard details what exactly goes into creating and managing DUI checkpoints.
Interested to learn more about what happens after a DUI charge? Read our Chester County DUI expungement page.
It’s a long night for officers on the front lines in DUI battle
WEST GOSHEN — Dawn Richardson will never forget one of the first nights she volunteered with the Chester County DUI Task Force.
Though drawing blood is routine for Richardson, who is a phlebotomist by day at Chester County Hospital, few patients there stumble to her drunk, heads heavy, knowing handcuffs are only minutes away.
But such unpredictability is normal on the nights she serves with the task force.
“I will never ever forget we had a woman who was arrested for drunken driving – you know how they have them girly parties like pampered chef — well, she had come from one of those,” Richardson said.
Stepping onto the bus to meet Richardson, the woman became belligerent and had to be wrestled off by police who needed to use pepper spray to restrain her. Caught in the crossfire was Richardson, whose eyes were an unfortunate casualty – as least temporarily – for the evening.
Despite that experience, Richardson maintained her position as a regular volunteer and the go-to phlebotomist for the county’s DUI task force operations.
In fact, Richardson said the only difference from her day job is she sits more, waiting for offenders to come to her. The only added challenge, she said, is that the bus setup adds a balancing task to her work.
Overall, Richardson said outbursts and incidents are a rare occurrence with the arrested individuals who are at that point accompanied by police officers.
On a Friday night this past May, Richardson joined officers with the DUI task force to conduct a checkpoint on Route 3 just west of Five Points Road.
It’s about 10:30 p.m., officers have signs set up, members from various county police departments are lined up on Route 3 inspecting every car that passes through. The checkpoint will carry through to about 2:30 a.m., looking for impaired drivers who would otherwise be a safety risk on the road.
West Goshen Sgt. Justin DiMedio, who has led the county’s DUI task force since 2007, is in charge.
Broken down into stations, the checkpoint moves with military precision. Officers on the line greet drivers, asking them their destination and origin, while looking for signs of intoxication, before sending them on their way with a informational flyer if no suspicion is raised. Once spotted, the driver and passengers are removed while another officer valets the car into a lot. Passengers are then taken to a coned-off waiting area while the drivers are given field sobriety tests. Should the driver fail, they are read their rights, blood is drawn and they are arrested. They are then driven to a local department to be booked.