Lexington police use state grant to reduce DUI

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) -- It’s the thing we all dread seeing: blue lights in the mirror. But the police would rather not be there. “We’re not out here to arrest everybody," says Sgt. R.T. Condry of the Lexington Police. "That’s a misconception of law enforcement. As far as DUIs go, we don’t want to arrest anybody.”

And that’s the ultimate goal of the Lexington Police Department as they use a state grant as part of their regular DUI enforcement efforts.

“Not only do we enforce the laws using this grant money, but we do education programs," explains Capt. Mark Riley, Lexington's Interim Chief of Police. "We work on prevention, we advocate safe rides, designated drivers. We do occupant protection, people wear their seat belts, we want them to be safe.”

The goal, they say, is to reduce the number of DUI arrests, ultimately to zero. Lexington’s police admit: They would rather have a boring Saturday night. “We really do," says Sgt. Condry. "There would be nothing better than to ride around and wave at everybody, and have our night be over from eight to eight, and not have to do any paperwork.”

Which after an arrest can take police off patrol for hours at a stretch. So another function of the grant is to put more officers on the streets on weekends. “It allows us for funding to pay the overtime for the officers to be out here on patrol,” according to Condry.

And the equipment for them to use, like the test kits. "Each one of them can cost up to $500 to $600 each,” says Condry.

But in the end, to them, it’s about saving lives.

“When we do make a DUI arrest," says Riley, "That person is safe, they’re off the road. They’re not in danger and they’re not endangering others.”

“Somebody asked me when I was teaching a class one time: What was the best DUI you ever got?" Condry says. "I can’t answer that. I can tell you what the best DUI will ever be, and that’s the last one.”