According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) there will be a checkpoint in Sarasota County this Friday with the primary focus being drunk driving in Venice. The checkpoint is scheduled from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Officers from Venice and North Port Police Departments will join with the FHP on U.S. 41 Bypass north of Center Road.
While the operation is being termed a “comprehensive roadside safety checkpoint” law enforcement is making no bones about its intended purpose. According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune the checkpoint is being conducted to intercept drunk drivers before an accident occurs and more importantly to deter the practice all together of DUI in Sarasota County.
The FHP has stated that they will make it a priority to ensure the safety of the motorists and officers while conducting the checkpoint while balancing that with a minimal amount of intrusion or motorist inconvenience.
MySuncoast.com reported that there were 11 DUI accidents in Sarasota County in 2009. There were 12 deaths in relation to those accidents. The most recent Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle statistics from 2008 show that there were 1112 arrests made in Sarasota County for DUI. Of that total only 11 of the 858 cases that had been resolved at that time ended with a not guilty verdict at trial. That number does not take into account the amount of DUI charges that were reduced or dismissed before a trial.
The release concerning the checkpoints this weekend in Venice included the FHP stating that they have a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving. DUI is not limited to just alcohol. Motorists with illegal drugs or even prescription pills in their system could be at risk for a driving under the influence arrest.