Local police help search for impaired drivers

Photo by Mike Donoghue
Officer Bill Wager of the Hinesburg Community Police checks a driver on Vermont 2A in Williston on Saturday night.

Police covering Shelburne, Charlotte and Hinesburg say they plan to have officers looking for impaired, distracted and speeding drivers as Vermonters head into the long Labor Day weekend.

Shelburne Deputy Police Chief Aaron Noble said drivers impaired from alcohol and drug use are a primary concern. “We are going to be out there.  We will be stepping up enforcement,” Noble said. “Drivers also need to stay within the speed limit. We are looking for people to slow down.”

With the sharp increase in highway fatalities recently in Vermont, Hinesburg Community Police Chief Frank Koss said extra effort will be made to double check that drivers and passengers are using seatbelts. “Since we had a rise in fatalities from not wearing seatbelts, we will be checking for them,” Koss said. He noted that 57 percent of all fatalities involving vehicles with seatbelts available were unbelted.

State police also said they plan to continue their saturation patrols in high traffic areas where they are concentrating their presence as a visible reminder to motorists to drive safely.

Last weekend, Shelburne, Hinesburg police joined state police as part of a special enforcement effort seeking impaired drivers and distracted drivers along with other motor vehicle offenses.

Shelburne Police Sgt. Allen Fortin said the extra assignment included a checkpoint on Vermont 2A in Williston. The southbound traffic was steady, in part, because of the start of the Champlain Valley Fair. Officers checked 500 vehicles and screened six drivers for possible impairment during the two and a half hour checkpoint, Fortin said.

One driver was arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs and the vehicle was impounded for a possible search warrant, Fortin said. No details were available on the driver or the vehicle search. Another driver was ticketed for having an open alcohol container in the car, Fortin said, and six people were warned about not wearing a seatbelt.

Fortin said the enforcement effort brings together multiple law enforcement agencies to work on keeping the roads safe, particularly in light of an increase in fatal crashes in recent weeks.

Other agencies participating in the checkpoint were Williston, Colchester, Burlington and Vermont State Police and the Grand Isle County Sheriff’s Department.

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