Montgomery County, Maryland State Police step up DUI patrols
GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) – Dozens of Montgomery County Police officers and state troopers assembled for a concentrated DUI blitz Friday night.
"Any death is one too many. Any crash is one too many," declared Maryland State Police Sergeant David Ryan.
For police on the lookout for drunk drivers, this is a season of transition. The warmer weather brings out more drivers, and some of them imbibe.
"I don't believe it's safer out there," said Montgomery County Police Captain Thomas Didone. "I think people are making big mistakes … and they're getting behind the wheel and driving."
Since May of 2014, the Maryland State Police's Impaired Driving Enforcement Team, or SPIDRE for short, has made nearly 1,200 DUI arrests. The average blood alcohol content in those cases is .13. A .08 BAC is considered legally drunk.
"Approximately one-third of our collisions involve alcohol," said Montgomery County Police Sergeant Jason Cokinos.
Cokinos took ABC7 on a short sweep in his cruiser during Friday night's anti-DUI operation.
Officers were preparing to set up at least one roadblock in the Silver Spring-Takoma Park area and are taking part in intense saturation patrols.
"We're going to have additional officers in areas defined as [those involving] high crashes and alcohol-related crashes," Cokinos said.
One case brought up by investigators involves the death of Shawn Gangloff. The 15-year-old was killed last August in Olney, when the car he was in slammed into a tree. Investigators believe the 17-year-old behind the wheel was a suspected drunk driver.
"The tragedy involving the teens on Hines Road is why you see 50 officers and troopers out here tonight," Didone said.
So far this year, six people have died in car crashes in Montgomery County. Two of those cases involved alcohol.
For the police working this detail, it's a difficult job, but much better than the alternative.
"I can give you minute details of every time I’ve had to knock on somebody's door and let them know a family member was killed," Ryan said. "We try and prevent it."