Holiday traffic safety checkpoints scheduled through weekend

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Huntsville Police Department's DUI Task Force will be out this weekend, officers confirm, setting up traffic safety checkpoints. They have done several throughout the month of December.

Drive sober, or get pulled over. That's a message from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a campaign that you might have seen in advertising this month.

The NHTSA says over the past five years, an average of 300 people died in drunk-driving crashes during the Christmas through New Year’s holiday period. In December 2016 alone, 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes.

That's why law enforcement across the Tennessee Valley do what they can to patrol and take other measures, including checkpoints, to keep you safe on the roads.

Sgt. Kevin Matthews said it involves a lot of overtime, paid for by grants, but the work they are doing is worth it.

"We want people to enjoy the holidays, but we want everybody to get home safely every night. That's our main goal," he explained.

Often, the traffic safety checkpoints net more than just DUI offenders.

"Warrants can pop up during the checks. We have people pull up that you can smell drugs in the vehicle and we go from there," Matthews said.

The Task Force utilizes data provided by the State that determines traffic accident hotspots across the city. There are 57 designated hotspots throughout Huntsville.

"We don't just pick these spots because we like them. It's because we have traffic fatalities and things like that. We concentrate on those areas," he explained. "In those areas where we're having fatalities, you'll see more checkpoints."

If you are stopped at a Traffic Safety Checkpoint, the department asks you to be prepared to present your driver license, proof of insurance and vehicle tag registration to the officers.

They also rely on your help as a fellow driver.

If you see someone drinking and driving contact the Huntsville Police Department at 256-722-7100. When you call, be prepared to give the location, vehicle description, driver description, and direction of travel for the suspected vehicle.

The department, and NHTSA, ask you to give the gift of safety and sober driving this season and make it a New Year's resolution to be responsible on the road.