Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2005

Van to help speed up DUI tests

$90,000 vehicle to be used at saturation patrols, DUI checklanes, major accidents

November 17, 2005


Lawrence Police have a new tool to fight drunken driving.

The department on Wednesday unveiled its new $90,000 Blood-Alcohol Testing van, bought with a federal grant.

The van - equipped with a Breathalyzer machine, a computer and work stations for officers - will be used at DUI checklanes and saturation patrols to keep officers from having to take suspects to the jail to administer a breath test.

Normally, before officers can arrest someone for driving drunk, they must take the person to the Douglas County Jail, observe him for 20 minutes and then give a Breathalyzer test. With the van, they can do the work at the side of the road.

Sgt. Randy Roberts, right, explains the Breath-Alcohol Testing Unit on Wednesday to City Commissioner Mike Rundle and Planning Commissioner Marguerite Ermeling during a tour of the van.

Sgt. Randy Roberts, right, explains the Breath-Alcohol Testing Unit on Wednesday to City Commissioner Mike Rundle and Planning Commissioner Marguerite Ermeling during a tour of the van.

"What we're doing is putting the officer back on the street a little faster," said Sgt. Randy Roberts, supervisor of the department's traffic unit. "It speeds our process up."

The van has been in use since Sept. 8, but on Wednesday Roberts was among those from the department giving a tour to the media and members of the City Commission.

The van won't be roving the streets nightly. Instead, it will be deployed roughly once per month whenever the department conducts a citywide "saturation patrol" or a DUI check lane.

Also, the van will be brought to the scene of major car accidents so that a handful of officers can use the workspace inside to do accident reconstruction.

The van was bought with a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant is administered by the Kansas Department of Transportation.


grimpeur 12 years, 6 months ago

Hmm. I'm more concerned about the revolving door AFTER arrest.

Especially the third/fourth/tenth time. No knock on DUI attorneys, but there's a problem when half a lawyer's caseload consists of working for diversions in DUI cases. Or expunging.

Other moving violations, same thing. Current set-up is aimed at making sure everyone keeps his or her license at any cost, not getting habitual drunks, speeders, and reckless drivers off the road.

First post! The early bird gets the worm.

But it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

Revealing where the LPD or state trooper check lanes will be located is very pro active. Last Chance Saloon might be a great check point for openers.

hurlehey 12 years, 6 months ago

I've seen this van. It's a big green machine with shag carpet and red tassels inside. I hear rumors that its got a mean set of hydrolics too.

RayBanMan 12 years, 6 months ago

I am glad the department is being proactive on DUI enforcement. Being in a college town, I would suspect the volume of drunk drivers increases with such a youthful population. I would question the Sergeant's logic of placing the van on the street only once a month??? What type of return on our (tax) money is this for $90,000??

If the purpose of the van is to save officers time in processing drunk drivers, then why isn't the van at least deployed every weekend (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday)

I think the Traffic Unit is doing a magnificient job doing what we have asked them to do, which was slow drivers down and enforce traffic laws. I see them all over town stopping cars. I am glad they have been given another tool to work with but I see the scope of the application has been harmfully narrowed by using it only once a month. IMO.

missmagoo 12 years, 6 months ago

$90,000 for once a month use?? Is that cost-efficient? Either put the bus on the road more or get handheld brethalizers...

Godot 12 years, 6 months ago

They don't really view federal money as real money, it is just "gravy." Look what they did with the homeland security money - they bought a big screen TV! And I'm still riled that they turned down the gift of a helicopter because "it costs too much to operate." And this thing doesn't?

rousseau108 12 years, 6 months ago

Godot, the LPD is not the organization that bought the big screen TV, that was Douglas County Emergency Mgmt. Also, there is no comparing the cost of operating and maintaining this van to a helicopter. Officers don't have to be specially trained to fly (which takes years), don't have to have a hangar or pay for the fuel a helicopter uses.

DGL 12 years, 6 months ago

RayBanMan and others who suggest sending the van out every weekend: get real. We don't have enough jail cells for all the drunk drivers that we'd pick up. Have you tried calling the police for something on a Friday night? Unless you were in the process of getting murdered, you'd be lucky if they got there in less than 1 hour.

DGL 12 years, 6 months ago

By the way, GODOT, cops like toys so I'm sure they were more riled than you at having to turn down that helo.

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