PGPD Initiatives Lead to Record High DUI Arrest Numbers
PGPD officers made 85 drunk driving related arrests in January.
Prince George’s County Police have been boosting efforts to crack down on drunk drivers, a strategy that seems to be paying off.
This past January, county police officers arrested 85 people for driving under the influence—according to the Prince George’s Police Department’s blog—surpassing all monthly totals for the past 16 years.
Cpl. Larry Johnson, a spokesman for the department, said that arrest increase was due in part to better resources.
“A lot of [the arrests] were the result of state funding, to provide overtime assignments for officers, so they can get out there and work the initiatives put in place, whether it be check points or traffic patrols,” he said.
Last October the Department awarded a $200,000 grant for traffic safety enforcement. The departments recently formed Traffic Enforcement Unit has also had a significant effect of DUI arrest totals, Johnson said.
“A big reason why the [arrest] number has risen is the creation of our Traffic unit,” he said.
The Traffic Enforcement unit was implemented last May in an effort to combat high numbers of fatal car crashes within the county.
Johnson said that Prince George’s County is not the only area increasing its arrest totals.
“[This is] pretty much a state goal of getting these arrests higher to keep these drivers off our roads,” he said.
While the county showed a rise in DUI arrests, Bowie Police Chief John Nesky said that his jurisdiction totals stayed within the usual range.
The department's DUI arrest initiatives are a part of the county’s Fatality Reduction Plan, an initiative put in place by Maryland State Police and the county police department.
“We had 4 [DUI arrests] that month,” he said. “Our numbers are not showing a real big spike.”
Nesky said that the department plans to continue with their effective methods for combating drunk driving including, traffic patrols, check points and publishing drunk driving arrests as unusual occurrences.
59-year-old Spencer McNeil's arrest was one such DUI related incident classified as an “unusual occurrence” in February—the only one.
According to the police report, the DC resident was stopped on Town Center Blvd., and during stop the arresting officer smelled alcohol coming from McNeil.
McNeil was later reported as having a blood alcohol level of 0.15. He was charged, along with other violations, for DUI and driving while impaired by alcohol.
Over the weekend, there were two more DUI arrests in Bowie, the first on Friday night after collision on Mitchellville Road.
According to a report released by the Bowie Police, around 9 p.m. on March 5, police responded to a two-car collision at the intersection of Mitchellville Road and Collington Road.
When officers arrived, 58-year-old William Patrick Semidey, of Germantown, MD, had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. Semidey had run into the back of a car stopped at a stoplight on Mitchellville Road, according to the report.
Police say Semidey was unstable on his feet, needing assistance to stand, and had admitted to drinking between ten and fifteen beers prior to getting behind the wheel.
The officers also spotted numerous empty Bud Lite beer cans in the front passenger seat, and asked Semidey to take a field sobriety test, which he declined.
When officers tried to place Semidey under arrest, he resisted, but was ultimately able to be subdued and was charged with driving under the influence. Nobody was injured in the collision.
A few hours later—early Saturday morning—another DUI arrest was made on Route 197 near the exit for Route 50.
Police spotted 38-year-old Zhi Yuan Zhang traveling northbound on Route 197, in the southbound lane just after 2 a.m. on March 6. During the stop, officers could smell alcohol on Zhang, then watched him vomit onto the front passenger seat.
According to the report, Zhang told police he had, “maybe two drinks.” He then agreed to a field sobriety test, which he failed. A Breathalyzer test revealed he had a BAC of 0.13.
Chief Nesky said the department publishes these arrests as a deterrent for some would-be drunk drivers.
“[Drunk driving related arrests] are not so much unusual, we just want to get the word out," he said. “Sometimes seeing [the arrest] in a newspaper will make someone go ‘Wow’ this could happen to me.”