Bridgton PD ramping up patrols to nab drunk drivers


The Bridgton Police Department has joined in with a national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign this holiday season, and will be increasing the number of patrols and possibly setting up roadblocks to search for and arrest drunk drivers.

The stepped-up enforcement period designated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration runs from Dec. 16 to Jan. 1. In addition to reminding all drivers to drive sober, Police Chief Richard Stillman is asking residents to call 911 if they see a drunk driver on the road.

“It’s time for all drivers to get the message,” Stillman said. “Drunk driving is a choice you make, and when you make that choice, people get hurt or die.”

The safest way to get home from a holiday party or restaurant, Stillman said, is to drive sober or catch a ride with a sober designated driver. The NHTSA also has a SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend by identifying their location so they can be picked up.

In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver, according to NHTSA. In December 2013 alone, there were 733 people killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Twenty-three of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day.

Those caught drinking and driving could face jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, towing fees, and other OUI expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. Some people think that if they get pulled over for driving drunk, they can just refuse a breath test to avoid the OUI charge.

“Not true,” said Chief Stillman. “In Maine, refusing a breath test means an automatic arrest, and the loss of your driver’s license on the spot.” The only way to truly avoid an OUI is to drive sober or designate a sober driver ahead of time. Stillman added that there are other options, such as calling a friend, family member, or calling a taxi. The cost of cab fare is nothing compared to a $10,000 OUI or the cost of someone’s life.

“We can’t stand to see this tragic loss of life again and again,” added Chief Stillman. “The hardest part of the job is making that house call and telling a family that their loved one is gone because someone chose to drink and drive. That’s why, leading up to the holidays, we will show zero tolerance for drunk drivers on the road. Please find a safe and sober ride home.”

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