BRISTOL - The perception that Bristol's police officers are everywhere is paying off, according to traffic Lt. Kevin Morrell. While officers made no drunken driving arrests, they issued 15 infractions and 10 written warnings Thursday night at a DUI enforcement checkpoint.

Morrell said the checkpoint, which ran between 4 p.m. and midnight was comprised of four hours of roving patrols and four hours of checkpoint work on Route 6 at Hoover Road.

He said toward the end of the night, the driver of one of the final vehicles pulled into the checkpoint told officers he was the designated driver for the others in the vehicle who had all been drinking. Morrell said the driver said, "I know you guys are all over the place and doing these checkpoints all the time."

Morrell added the checkpoint being run on Thursday as opposed to the typical Friday and Saturday nights of the past was beneficial in that while no drunken drivers were arrested, it shows people driving through the city that the police "can be anywhere at any time." He also said Thursday is payday for a lot of people who, because of "Thirsty Thursday" promotions at bars and restaurants go out for cocktails with friends and coworkers.

Of the infractions issued, Morrell three were for failure to wear a seat belt; three for motorists driving without insurance; three for motorists using hand-held cellular phones while driving; two for motorists operating while their license was under suspension; two for motorists driving an unregistered vehicle and one infraction each for misuse of license plates and not stopping at a red light.

The 10 written warnings were issued to three people not wearing seat belts, six drivers who did not have a front license plate on the vehicle and one person for failure to carry license while driving. Three vehicles were towed from the checkpoint because of the motor vehicle violation of the driver.

The checkpoints have been run on various commonly traveled streets throughout the city, and often set up in front of businesses, the managers and owners of which have always provided officers with positive feedback, Morrell said. He said he has never heard complaints from the business owners, many of whom have offered sodas, water and snacks to the officers, in addition to offering use of their business' parking lots so officers would not have to stand in the middle of the road.

The next DUI checkpoint will be July 3 from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., on Route 229 in the hopes, Morrell said, of making the July 4 holiday, "safe for everyone."

In response to comments from many people who have said if officers did not post the time and location of checkpoints they would probably catch more violators, Morrell said by law he is required to have checkpoints posted in the newspaper in advance of a checkpoint.

Morrell said because of the success police had raising awareness of the safety belt laws during the enforcement campaign throughout which officers stood in the roads and pulled over vehicles in which seat belts were not being worn, he is planning a similar campaign regarding use of hand-held cellular phones.

Morrell said he hopes to have similar success with the upcoming zero-tolerance cell phone campaign as that of the zero-tolerance safety belt campaign run in May.

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