Local drivers pass county’s first sobriety checkpoint effort

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The first sobriety checkpoint lane sponsored by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Saturday evening just south of Hillsboro didn’t catch any intoxicated drivers, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t accomplish some good, organizers said.

From 10 p.m. to midnight Saturday, sheriff’s officers and members of the Hillsboro Police Department stopped cars coming into and leaving Hillsboro on Indigo at a checkpoint two miles south of town.

Drivers were stopped and asked if they had consumed alcoholic beverages during the evening. If so, officers asked how much and how long ago. All drivers received a brochure explaining the purpose of the operation and warning of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Undersheriff Randal Brazil was recently trained in organizing such a checklane. The department hopes to organize four or five during the year and in other areas of the county.

Brazil reported these results from their first venture:

145 cars checked;

12 seatbelt warnings;

three child-restraint warnings;

two headlight warnings;

one broken windshield warning;

one DUI evaluation.

Law enforcement personnel assisting Brazil with the checklane were Sheriff Lee Becker, Deputy Mike Fisher, Deputy Aaron Waddel, Deputy Rollin Schmidt, Deputy Mike Vineski, Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning, Sgt. Jessey Hiebert, Officer David Funk, Reserve Officer Lyle Gillett, and Reserve Officer Brad Richards.

The questioning of drivers was low-key and brief, but Becker said that doesn’t mean intoxicated drivers could pass without discovery. He said officers smelled for alcohol on the driver’s breath, listened for slurred speech, and watched for other telltale signs of intoxication.

The flashing lights from law enforcement vehicles was visible for more than a mile, but Becker said a chase car was stationed down the road in case a driver stopped and turned around to avoid the checklane.

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