Norman police to conduct second sobriety checkpoint this week
Kyven Zhao, The Oklahoma Daily
AT A GLANCE
Norman Independence Day celebration
WHERE: Reaves Park, 2501 Jenkins Ave.
• Activities begin at 4:00 p.m.
• Fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m.
Source: City of Norman
Sooners planning to party hard this Fourth of July should think twice before they decide to drink and drive because they could run into a sobriety checkpoint, a Norman Police Department spokesman said.
The department set up the first of two planned checkpoints Friday in the Norman area and arrested seven people on alcohol-related charges, two of whom were OU students according to a cross-reference of the names against OU's People Search. Norman Police will perform the second checkpoint sometime in the next week, Capt. David Teuscher said.
Police hold the checkpoints a few times a year to check for intoxicated drivers or other traffic-related issues, Teuscher said.
Generally, people’s intoxication levels go up dramatically around holidays, especially New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July, Teuscher said. DUIs are behind many of the most deadly crashes the officers handle, he said.
During a checkpoint, officers are sent to a location with a set of rules, such as to check every car or every third car, Teuscher said. Police continue to check vehicles at random unless a driver is clearly impaired.
“They stick to those rules unless someone tries to run them over, in which case the rules go out the window,” he said.
Police checked 373 vehicles over a four-hour period Friday, he said. Five drivers were arrested for driving under the influence, and two others were arrested for public intoxication.
The checkpoints are made possible by an Oklahoma Highway Safety Office grant, which was given for the specific purpose of stopping drunk drivers, Teuscher said. Norman citizens aren’t paying the salaries of the officers who perform the checkpoints.
Teuscher couldn’t disclose exactly where or when the second checkpoint will take place, although he said it will be held sometime in the next week.
In 2009, more than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Sobriety checkpoints across the nation consistently reduce alcohol-related crashes, typically by 20 percent, according to the website.
Reaves Park is a favorite place to celebrate the Fourth of July for many Norman residents, and Teuscher advised students to “buckle up, get a designated driver and let them drive” once the party is over.
“Enjoy the weekend,” he said. “We’re not trying to stop people from having a good time — we just want them to make good decisions.”
There will be plenty of police in the park to help ensure people do just that. Officers from OUPD, the Norman Police Department and the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office will patrol during the Fourth of July festivities, Recreation Superintendent Jeff Hill said.
“We’re always cognizant and try to be watchful for people that have imbibed too much,” OUPD Lt. Bruce Chan said.
A city ordinance states that intoxicating beverages with more than 3.2-percent alcohol content are not allowed in the park, Hill said.
“That’s a regular Oklahoma beer, basically,” he said. “But as long as people are behaving, they’re not going to push it too much.”
Hill had some advice for park-goers this Fourth of July: “Just don’t drink too much, don’t light firecrackers in Reaves Park and drink lots of water because it’s going to be hot,” he said.