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Township-Led DUI Checkpoint Blamed for Traffic Jam

The DUI checkpoint Lower Saucon Township Police conducted at the Interstate 78 East on-ramp Aug. 4 resulted in eight DUI arrests along with a significant traffic backup in the City of Bethlehem.

The decision by Lower Saucon Township Police to conduct a DUI checkpoint near the Route 412 entrance to I-78 East during Musikfest has been questioned by Bethlehem Police Department officials, as well as some local businesses and members of the public who were ensnared in the traffic jam that resulted from the Aug. 4 checkpoint.

Many of those motorists were leaving Musikfest, which began that weekend.

In a story published Sunday by the Express-Times, LSTPD DUI Coordinator Robert Winters admitted that the location on the border of Bethlehem and Hellertown had not been used for a DUI checkpoint in six years, but said police were responsive to concerns about traffic on Route 412 once they were made aware of them.

The 5-hour checkpoint resulted in eight DUI arrests and was a joint effort with the Hellertown and Freemansburg police departments, Winters told the newspaper.

Bethlehem police were invited to participate in the checkpoint, but declined to do so because of manpower concerns associated with Musikfest, it was reported.

Winters said that several waves of vehicles were allowed to pass through the checkpoint without being stopped once it became clear that traffic was backing up as far as the Sands casino, which was one of the businesses that complained to the Bethlehem Police Department, according to the story.

He also defended the use of the checkpoint "for the greater good," but said the I-78 on-ramp location won't be used for another checkpoint until logistics are examined. 

Bethlehem Police Commissioner Jason Schiffer said he hopes for a dialogue with Lower Saucon Township Police, to help ensure that a similar incident doesn't occur.

Duke Druetski August 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Leave it to Lower Saucon to be over doing it again and again... Seriously is this area that bad that you need to over patrol and abuse your power daily? You need something to talk about so you try your hardest to make something to talk about. Hellertown and Lower Saucon Police forces are jokes. Sticking it to the average joe while the real criminals are rarely caught. The ratio of D.U.I's to real crime is absurd.
Denb58 August 15, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I was trapped in the traffic that evening. I think it was a very poor choice of location and time given the amount of back up it caused. While I agree with the use of a DUI checkpoint for enforcement. If the officers would have noticed the huge jam it was causing perhaps the check point could have been suspended or at least relocated. That whole intersection is a nightmare and certainly does not need any added congestion caused by this operation. I support the Lower Saucon PD in their efforts but this was ill advised.
Jim Miller August 27, 2012 at 08:33 PM
It's such a shame that your time was wasted because of a DUI Checkpoint. Next time I hope the police are more considerate, so as to not impede on your travels. Perhaps let some unlikely DUI drivers off the hook and hope no accidents occur. Ohhhhh but wait, then the cops are blamed for not enforcing it more aggressively right? Riiiiight.

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