BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - Boone county sheriff's officials have a new $40,000 Breath Alcohol Testing vehicle to use during sobriety checkpoints. Officials purchased the van last fall, but are almost finished upgrading it. They claim it will greatly improve efficiency when processing suspects.
Officials say the new van is extremely different from what they worked in previously at checkpoints. They told ABC 17 News what they had before was an Econovan that was small and could only process one suspect at a time. Now deputies can do half-a-dozen other things onsite while processing up to three suspects.
Boone County sheriff's officials said they received a grant through Missouri's Department of Transportation to buy a new vehicle to use at sobriety checkpoints. They say they found a 16-seat bus in Kansas City and have spent almost a year remodeling and upgrading it. The new bat van features breathalyzers, cameras, desks and computers.
"We tried to be fiscally responsible doing this and get something that was functional that we put out there, so we were able to put a lot of other equipment in there we had previously," Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Brian Leer said.
Deputies said the van will be used for checkpoints all over the county.
MoDOT officials say last year they participated in more than 500 checkpoints over the state. They believe it's important to give law enforcement the equipment to do everything they need to do.
"A lot of our sobriety checkpoints are at remote locations and if you talked about trying to process and improve the process time, these types of vans do assist in more efficient process," MoDOT Highway Safety Director Leanna DePue said.
Sheriff's officials say it's important to get drunk drivers off the roads because 30 percent of all deadly crashes involve drunk drivers. They believe having this new van will deter people from drinking and driving.
"It's quite different. A lot more functional, a lot more room in there, it allows us to be more efficient and have a little better working atmosphere out there," Leer said.
The sheriff's department has used the new van in six checkpoints already. They said the difference from now on will be that they have everything installed and will be fully functional.
According to MoDOT, more than 700 were arrested at checkpoints last year.