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Police Ramp Up Safe December Efforts

The Fairfax County Police Department is urging residents to drive safely this holiday season and watch their alcohol consumption.

A total of 607 drivers have been linked to reported crashes after consumption of alcohol in 2012, according to statistics from the Fairfax County Police Department.

Of those 607 drivers, 481 were male drivers and 60 drivers were underage at the time of the crash.

The statistics were released by the police as part of their Safe December efforts to raise awareness and publicize their goal of alcohol enforcement this holiday season.

The release further states that officers arrested 372 drunk drivers during Safe December efforts in 2011, a 17 percent increase compared to 2010. Of those drivers, 85 were female and 287 were male. Seventy-two of those drivers were involved in reported crashes after alcohol consumption.

Police arrested a total of 3,200 people for drunk driving in Fairfax County in 2011.

New Standards for New Recruits

Officer Richard Bistline delivered a presentation to residents, police officers and media representatives last week at the FCPD Operations Support Bureau in Annandale on the new National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) field sobriety standards that all new FCPD recruits are required to learn.

New recruits now go through a required 24-hour course where officers learn the skills they need in order to determine whether someone is a drunk driver.  Those skils are later tested on in a wet lab practical. During the practical, officers with volunteer testers to test between a .08 and 1.5 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. Bistline said working with the testers allows the officers to learn the differences on how to perform the field tests.

There are three NHTSA approved field tests: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagamus (HGN), the Walk and Turn (WAT) and the One Leg Stand (OLS). Each test has clues officers look for. HGN has 6, WAT has 8 and OLS has 4.

The final test officers use is the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Officers are required to offer the test to the driver and also have to show the driver the test results. The PBT can’t be used as a primary to determinant drunkenness, Bistline said; it only supports probable clause. A PBT test can only be used in a probable clause hearing or during a motion to suppress.

If the driver refuses the PBT, Bistline said the officers should already have a decision about whether to arrest them based on the previous tests performed since PBT is last.

“We don’t play games anymore,” said Bistline. “If a person is intoxicated… those are the kind of people we want to keep off the road.”

A typical DWI stop takes about 20-30 minutes to complete.

For additional statistics on the FCPD Safe December efforts, click here.

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