With the holidays quickly approaching and drivers taking to the roads, Wilmington Police are trying to keep the streets safe by stopping impaired drivers. But they are using techniques other than traditional check points. At first glance it looks like a meeting for a street racing group. But the gathering is actually the beginning of what local law enforcement calls a saturation Patrol. “We essentially congregate in known DWI routes that DWI offenders typically take; whether or not they're going to or from downtown,” said Corporal Joseph Fitzgerald of the Wilmington Police Department. A saturation patrol is different from a checkpoint, because law enforcement doesn't stop every car or slow regular traffic. Corporal Fitzgerald said saturation points ultimately work better. “They are very effective, they are highly visible, and hopefully accomplish the same goals without having the legal loop holes that you might run into with a DWI checkpoint,” he said. Fitzgerald said he finds most DWI violations when impaired drivers speed past him on the road. But it is not always because the driver had too much to drink. “Driving while impaired does not only apply to any alcohol. It applies to any kind of impairing substance whether it's legal, prescribed, or even illegal,” added Fitzgerald. He said police step up enforcement around the holidays because people tend to drive impaired more often traveling to and from their celebrations. If you do get a ticket, the penalty could mean fewer gifts, not just this holiday, but future one's as well. “In addition to your court penalties, your insurance typically goes up 375% if you're convicted of impaired driving,” stated Fitzgerald. But that's nothing compared to the consequences that could come with an accident if your driving while impaired. “There are just too many negative outcomes that can occur from that. Whether you're arrested, you’re involved in a crash and hurt someone or even kill someone. You're much better in spending $20 and taking a cab,” he said. Corporal Fitzgerald said in the past the police department has seen fatal accidents related to impaired driving around the holidays. He's hoping that, with increased saturation patrols like Sunday morning, they can prevent that from happening this year. Sunday’s patrol resulted in five DWI arrests, a possession of marijuana charge, several traffic citations and warnings. Wilmington Police will continue patrols through the holidays.
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