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DUI checkpoints, patrols underway for Labor Day holiday

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The Labor Day holiday weekend is one of the deadliest for impaired driving on Pennsylvania roads, according to PennDOT.

In response, police in York, Adams and Lancaster counties will set up sobriety checkpoints and conduct DUI patrols to try to make southcentral Pennsylvania roads safer, according to Barb Zortman from the Center for Traffic Safety.

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Police started the crackdown on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Zortman said, adding it will continue through Labor Day, which is Monday, Sept. 4.

The Labor Day holiday is the third-highest in Pennsylvania for fatal DUI crashes, according to a news release from Zortman.

Only the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Fourth of July have more DUI crash-related fatalities, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Last year, there were 1,002 DUI crashes with 14 fatalities in the days leading up to Labor Day, according to Zortman, plus 860 crashes resulting in 18 fatalities on Labor Day 2016.

There were 1,037 crashes with 14 fatalities in the days after Labor Day last year, she said.

Drugged driving now accounts for about half of all impaired-driving arrests in Pennsylvania, according to Zortman.

Despite that, tougher laws, "smarter" enforcement efforts and "passionate advocacy" have cut in half the number of impaired driving deaths in the United States since 1982, she said.

That "smarter" enforcement includes having more than 150 trained drug recognition experts on the road, Zortman said — some are municipal police officers, some are state police troopers.

Pennsylvania has been training officers to be drug recognition experts for about a decade, she said.

About 10,000 people are killed each year in the United States in DUI crashes, according to Zortman.

She said high-visibility enforcement details, such as checkpoints, can reduce DUI-related crash fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

Announcing the details beforehand gives drivers a warning that's designed to get them to change "risk-taking behaviors," Zortman said.

With ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft in addition to taxicabs and local sober-ride programs, there is no reason to drive impaired, she said.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers the SaferRide app, which helps people find numbers for local cab companies or sends a person's location to a friend so the friend can pick up the person.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.