For the first time in about eight years, the Douglas County Sheriff's Department plans to conduct sobriety checks -- and the first one will be this weekend.
The checkpoints will be financed by a $5,919 grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation, Sheriff Rick Trapp said. The department applied for the grant last year under then-Sheriff Loren Anderson.
The grant money will be used to pay overtime to officers conducting the checks and for special equipment such as battery-powered flares, Trapp said. At least seven officers will be needed for the checkpoint operation, department officials said.
The first checkpoint will be from 11 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday in the area of U.S. Highway 59 and North 1200 Road (County Road 458) just south of Lawrence.
Drivers suspected of intoxication will be given brief sobriety field tests. Those who fail will be arrested, department officials said.
According to KDOT statistics, there were a total of 210 alcohol-related accidents in Douglas County in 1999. They resulted in five fatalities and 140 injuries.
"The safety project is being conducted to help reduce the number of these highly preventable accidents," Trapp said.
Law enforcement agencies are required to publicly release the times, dates and locations of sobriety checkpoints in advance. Several will be conducted periodically throughout the year, Trapp said.
-- Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.