Making roads safer

The Lycoming County DUI Advisory Council honored Montoursville borough and Pennsylvania State Police for their role in enforcing DUI laws at the Ross Club on Tuesday morning.

It is the 17th year the council has recognized local police departments for their work in DUI training and enforcement.

Chief Jeff Gyurina and Patrolman Kurt Heckman accepted the first place award for the Montoursville police department.

“Over the last five or six years we’ve gone to classes to identify DUI drug cases,” Gyurina said. “I’d guess 30 percent of our arrests are drug-related now heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, or a mix. DUIs going up doesn’t necessarily mean more people are driving drunk; we’re starting to catch up.”

Lt Todd Weltmer, of the state police Montoursville barracks, said his troopers are “finding more DUIs happening in the morning and afternoon.”

“Unfortunately, I guess, we’re on pace for more DUIs this year than last year,” Weltmer said. “We’ve (also) had a good number of controlled substance cases.”

Old Lycoming Township police Chief William Solomon, head of the county DUI task force, reported that 2012 marked an all-time low for alcohol-related crashes in the state.

“I think the lower number is a freak thing,” Solomon said. “We’re still on pace to have more arrests this year than last.”

Solomon said that in 2012, the 788 DUI cases recorded by the district attorney’s office represented a 29-percent increase over the previous year.

He also shared numbers from local DUI checkpoints and roving patrols.

In 2012, the county held seven checkpoints and 24 roving patrols, making for a total of 1,902 contacts, with 91 drunk driving arrests and 18 driving while drugged arrests.

Statewide, 2,079 checkpoints and roving patrols led to 3,716 arrests in 2012, out of 171,568 contacts.

The DUI Advisory Council next meets on July 9.