People planning on going out this weekend around Pittsburg should keep an eye out for a Kansas Highway Patrol checkpoint.

Every 50 minutes an alcohol related traffic fatality occurs. Doing their part to decrease the statistic, the KHP is conducting a sobriety checkpoint the weekend of March 16 on US 400 west of Pittsburg. The checkpoint is being implemented in an attempt to remove impaired drivers from the roadway and decrease traffic crashes "through awareness and enforcement,” according to a Highway Patrol spokesperson.

Checkpoints are often utilized by patrols to identify and apprehend impaired drivers. 

Independence Police Chief Jerry Harrison stressed the importance of safe and sober driving.

"Sadly, DUI is a socially acceptable crime and most of us don't understand how dangerous driving impaired can be," said Harrison. "It's the only misdemeanor I can think of that can get someone killed." 

Approximately 10,000 people are killed annually in alcohol related traffic accidents, and according to the Highway Patrol, the proportion of fatal crashes that are alcohol related is about three times greater at night than during the day.

Of the 10,000 deaths that occur annually make up for 29 percent of the total traffic fatalities. And according to the KHP, traffic related deaths are also the greatest single cause of death for infants, children and young adults. 

DUI checkpoints are efforts to encourage drivers' compliance with the state's alcohol related statutes. Those driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances pose a risk to everyone around them, including themselves.

"Your skills are impaired well before you feel 'drunk,'" said Harrison. In Kansas, laws prohibit all motorists form operating or attempting to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/ml or above, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to a degree that renders the driver incapable of safely operating the vehicle. The limit can differ, however. The legal BAC limit for drivers operating commercial vehicles is .04 g/ml, and for drivers under 21-years-old it is .02 g/ml.

Remember, don't drink and drive. Call a friend, cab or tow truck to get home safely. Paying for a tow truck or cab is less than paying for a conviction, said Harrison. "And if you see someone about to drink and drive stop them and give them a ride."

"We appreciate the patience and cooperation from all citizens involved with the checkpoint," said the KHP. For more information regarding the checkpoint contact Lieutenant Michael O’Hara or Technical Trooper Rick Wingate at 620-431-2100.