Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Police, MoDOT unveil new tool to combat drunk driving


The Kansas City Missouri Police Department will unveil a new tool Tuesday that will help with the effort to get drunk drivers off the road.

Police presented the new Mobile DUI Enforcement Center (MDEC) at a news conference at March 15 behind KCPD’s Metro Patrol Division Station. The MDEC was funded by a grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The vehicle is being unveiled in advance of the statewide crackdown on drunk driving during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. KCPD plans two DUI checkpoints between March 16 and 20.

Kansas City, Mo., significantly leads the state in alcohol-involved crashes, alcohol-involved fatal crashes and alcohol-involved serious injury crashes. About 63 percent of Kansas City’s traffic deaths in 2010 were attributed to someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. KCPD worked to get these dangerous drivers off the road by making 1,661 DUI arrests in 2010.

The new, grant-funded $395,000 Mobile DUI Enforcement Center will allow Kansas City Police to combat drunk drivers at sobriety checkpoints and other impaired driving enforcement operations. Officers will be able to process up to five impaired drivers at once and administer breath alcohol tests. The MDEC also has built-in computers that will be connected to the department’s network.

The MDEC replaces a 24-year-old recreational vehicle KCPD had been using as a command post at sobriety checkpoints.

“The Mobile DUI Enforcement Center will replace the Mobile Operations Sobriety Testing vehicle currently used,” said Sergeant Ron Podraza, supervisor of KCPD’s DUI Section. “The outdated MOST is an RV fabricated to serve as a breath testing vehicle. The MDEC was designed to serve as a DUI enforcement center during sobriety checkpoint operations. Knowing that funding for this type of vehicle only comes along once in a generation, the MDEC was built with longevity in mind. The MDEC will serve our citizens for many years to come, combating the scourge of impaired drivers."

Kansas City Police also plan to take the MDEC to community events for the public to tour. It will be used during the St. Patrick's Day enforcement later this week.