Hundreds of drivers stopped at DUI checkpoint

Published: Saturday, April 23 2011 4:21 p.m. MDT

ELBERTA, Utah County — Utahns on their way from the Wasatch Front to Little Sahara Sand Dunes for the Easter weekend came across deputies cracking down on impaired drivers Friday night.

Dozens of deputies with the Utah County Sheriff's Office stopped hundreds of cars, trucks, trailers and RVs on Highway 6 between Elberta and Eureka. Deputies questioned drivers, one by one, about drug or alcohol use.

"When people come through the checkpoint," Sgt. Spencer Cannon said, "we tell them what we are doing here, who we are and ask them if they have consumed any substances that might impair their ability to drive safely."

For most drivers, the process was finished in less than a minute, unless officers believed the driver was impaired.

"If we see anything suspicious or smell anything that is suspicious — the smell of alcohol, the smell of drugs — or if there is something suspicious about (someone's appearance), then we will have them pull off to the side of the road and investigate further," Cannon explained.

Several drivers who took field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer test were found to be under the influence. Officers handcuffed the suspects and impounded their vehicles. A drug-sniffing dog was available if drugs were suspected.

Deputies also confiscated alcohol from some underage teens.

Police say these DUI checkpoints must be approved by a judge and the time and location is published in advance to make them legal.

Officers believe most drivers appreciate knowing the roads will be a little safer.

"We get a lot of comments telling us they appreciate us being here. It's a minor imposition on their time," Cannon said. "The only ones that aren't very happy with it are the ones who have to spend a little more time with us and maybe even go to jail."

e-mail: spenrod@desnews.com

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