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More than 1,300 Arrests Made by SPIDRE DUI Team

As July 4th Holiday Nears, Drivers Urged to Always Drive Sober

Transportation, Enforcement and Safety Advocates Urge Drivers Not to Drink & Drive

July 2, 2015

(JESSUP, MD) –In February 2011, Cheryl Hammond faced every parent’s worst nightmare. Neighbors rushed to her New Windsor home to inform her that her daughter, Jessica Elaine Belknap, had been struck by a drunk driver while on a walk. Two days later, the young lady whose life was full of promise, died at Shock Trauma from the injuries she sustained as a result of the crash. The lives of Jessica’s parents, sister and two brothers were forever altered through the senseless act of drunk driving.

Today, Mrs. Hammond joined Maryland State Police Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Satchell, Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports, and AAA’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs, Mr. Lon Anderson, to share her story and to commemorate the two-year anniversary of a team of highly trained Maryland State Police troopers formed for the specific reason of arresting impaired drivers. Known as the State Police Impaired DRivingEffort, or SPIDRE, the team is deployed in areas of Maryland with high crash rates involving impaired drivers. The goal is simple – to find and arrest alcohol- or drug-impaired drivers before they cause crashes.

“We are exceptionally proud of the men and women who have been a part of the SPIDRE DUI team,” stated Lt. Colonel Satchell, Chief, of the Special Operations Bureau for the Maryland State Police. “Arresting impaired drivers is one of our top priorities and this team represents the very best in impaired driving enforcement, both on the road and in the courtroom. Their efforts save lives and will continue to help prevent the needless tragedies of impaired driving.”

Funded by the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Highway Safety Office, this team was the first of its kind on the east coast and has proven to be extremely effective. To date, the team has been responsible for more than 4,200 stops, resulting in 1,315 DUI arrests over the past two years, along with almost 100 other drug or criminal arrests.

“Safety is one of MDOT’s highest priorities and impaired drivers represent one of the greatest threats on our roadways,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Ports.  “We are proud to partner with the Maryland State Police on the SPIDRE program with the goal of targeting impaired drivers, getting them off our roads and saving lives.”

“With a record number of Marylanders expected on our roadways this holiday weekend, it becomes even more critical that each and every driver be sober, alert and paying full attention to the task at hand – driving safely,” said Mahlon G. (Lon) Anderson, Managing Director at AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Between 2009 and 2013, a total of 856 people lost their lives in Maryland in an impaired crash.  In 2013, 152 people were killed in crashes involving an impaired (alcohol and/or drug) driver.  Impaired driving fatalities accounted for 33 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2013.

SPIDRE is not alone. In the counties in which these troopers have deployed, they have been joined by officers from county police agencies to help increase the overall DUI enforcement presence. In addition, MDOT’s Highway Safety Office dedicated approximately $200,000 in funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to support the SPIDRE team’s efforts and another $500,000 for impaired driving prevention, education and awareness throughout the year.

"My Jessica died because someone chose to drive after they had been drinking,” stated Mrs. Hammond. “It’s irreversible, and there is no excuse for the loss that we have to face every day. We must get serious about dealing with drunk drivers or we are going to continue to lose children, friends and loved ones.” 

The SPIDRE team is dedicated to reaching the state’s goal of zero deaths on Maryland roadways. Officials warn that with the upcoming July Fourth holiday, there is an increase of parties and other celebrations where impairment may occur. To keep Maryland residents and visitors safe, the SPIDRE team will be out in full force over the July Fourth holiday weekend.

“There were more than 23,000 DUI arrests last year across the state so if you drive drunk you will be caught,” warned Lt. Colonel Satchell. “Besides possibly losing your life or your license, and spending thousands of dollars in fines, legal fees and court costs, there are countless other lives on the line. Don’t be a part of the problem. Make a plan before you go out and stick to that plan at the end of the night.”

Media Contacts:
Buel Young, MVA, 410-762-5188
Elena Russo, MSP, 410-653-4236

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