At least five arrests were made at three Virginia Beach checkpoints for driving under the influence on St. Patrick’s Day. Police set up these checkpoints as a way to catch drunk drivers on the roads.
"I view the checkpoints as proactive rather than reactive," Officer J.M. Baker said. "They make people think, maybe there's going to be a checkpoint on the way home, maybe I should drink responsibly."
St. Patrick’s Day, along with July 4th and Labor Day, are some of the biggest days for DUIs, even bigger than New Year’s Eve, according to Sgt. Scott Wichtendahl, who is the head of the Selective Enforcement Team that specializes in DUI and traffic. The Selective Enforcement Team made eight DUI arrests this St. Patrick’s Day, which was more than New Year’s Eve.
Police officers at the St. Patrick’s Day checkpoints stopped 328 vehicles between 8:00 PM and 1:00 AM. The DUI checkpoints were set up in the 2400 block of Shore Drive, on General Booth Boulevard and on the I-264 West access ramp on South Independence Boulevard. Checkpoints are usually set up in areas where there is a high concentration of bars.
During the stop, drivers were asked for their driver’s license and registration and officers were looking for any sign of impairment. Some drivers were also asked to complete field sobriety tests. Many of the police officers are experts in identifying drunk drivers based on their behavior.
On January 30, 2009, two vehicles were totaled and two men injured following an accident on Rt. 621 in Warsaw. The crash occurred at approximately 9:00 PM on Chestnut Hill Road when a BMW sedan and pickup truck struck head on.
According to Virginia State Trooper Jene Brooks, who was in charge of the crash scene initially, the two men sustained minor injuries and refused medical treatment. The men were released.
At the time of the crash, Franklin Taylor of Caret was driving a 1991 BMW 525i and Sherland Balderson of Warsaw was driving a 1988 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The accident was described as an “angled impact” between the BMW and Ford F-150, according to Brooks.
“It appears that the BMW rode the guard rail and then popped off veering into the other vehicle,” said Brooks.
Following the crash, Taylor was charged with DUI and arrested, according to Virginia State Trooper Joseph Benson. Benson was the one who finished the accident report for the state police. There have been no other charges filed in connection with the accident.
Taylor was arraigned on February 6 in Richmond County General District Court. His hearing is set for May 1, 2009 at 9:00 AM.
Virginia has extremely strict laws when it comes to DUI convictions. First-time DUI offenders may be fined as much as $2500 in Virginia. If you are facing a DUI charge in Virginia, you should contact an experienced DUI attorney who can review your case and help you with your defense.