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Police checkpoints catch drunken drivers

A traffic safety checkpoint nabbed "quite a few" drunken drivers late last week at three Johnson County locations, authorities said Monday.

Iowa City Police said that although total numbers have not been compiled, at least 10 drunken driving arrests were reported by three area law enforcement agencies.

Iowa City Police Sgt. Mike Lord said about 710 cars were stopped between 6:30 p.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday. About 25 officers and sheriff's deputies from seven area law enforcement agencies worked at the checkpoints, which were at Penn Elementary School in North Liberty, Scott Boulevard and Freedom Court and in front of Mayflower Residence Hall.

Lord said the checkpoints are funded through the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau. The Iowa City Police Department receives about $20,000 annually to pay officers overtime to work the checkpoints.

At the checkpoints, Lord said, officers make sure a motorist's head and tail lights work as well as check for license, registration and proof of insurance.

"The main thing is to try and get the bad ones off the road and make people aware of any problems they may have with their cars," Lord said. "People that may be drinking may be thinking twice about doing that."

As of Monday, Lord had not received arrest and citation data from the participating agencies. However, preliminary results from Iowa City, Coralville and University of Iowa police departments show 10 drunken driving arrests; four possession of controlled substances; eight driving while barred, under suspension or while restricted; seven no insurance tickets; 13 non-moving violations; and more than 50 warnings issued.

Lord said the area law enforcement agencies try to team up at least once a year for a large-scale traffic safety checkpoint. He said the individual agencies also perform traffic safety checkpoints throughout the year.

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