Jummel Hidrosollo / Special to the Home News
Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009 | 10:19 p.m.
By the time the final whistle blew at the end of Super Bowl 43, police officers from Las Vegas and Henderson were already on the lookout for fans who might have celebrated a little too hard before getting behind the wheel. The Metropolitan and Henderson police departments teamed up Sunday to conduct a DUI checkpoint after the game near the corner of Flamingo and Lindell roads in an effort to keep drunk drivers off the roads.
By 8 p.m., a long line of cars returning from the Strip was making its way through the checkpoint and five individuals had been arrested and charged with drunk driving. The checkpoint was scheduled to run through 2 a.m. Monday and a final arrest tally is expected to be released later this week.
Metro Police Sgt. Stewart Emry said the location was chosen because Flamingo sees a high number of vehicle accidents – alcohol-related or otherwise.
One motorist tried to escape in his vehicle, but officers pulled him over further down the street.
“The Super Bowl is synonymous with drinking,” Emry said. “People party and have a great time, and then they tell themselves ‘I’ll risk it.’ And that’s why we’re out here.”
When a vehicle stops at the checkpoint, the first step in the process is verbal communication with the driver, Henderson Police Officer Leon Farmer said.
“We try to smell their breath and look in their eyes to see if they’re bloodshot or watery,” he said. “We also catch people when they’re trying to switch drivers.”
Drivers suspected of being impaired were asked to leave their car and walk to a nearby field station while an officer parked their vehicle around the corner. The motorist would then be put through field sobriety and breath tests. Anyone with a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.08 percent was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
First-time DUI offenders typically end up paying approximately $10,000 in legal fees and fines, Emry said.
“You’ll lose your license for 90 days and you could spend anywhere from 10 days to 30 days in jail,” he said.
People who have been drinking, Emry said, have plenty of options when faced with the question of how to get home.
“Take a bus, get a cab or have a designated driver,” he said. “If you jump behind the wheel, you risk getting caught or getting in an accident and killing someone.”
When asked if he had any advice for drivers, Farmer was quick to respond.
“It costs $50 for a cab ride anywhere in town, but a DUI will cost you thousands of dollars,” Farmer said. “It’s just not worth it.”
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].