Area police reported yesterday that their stepped-up surveillance New Year's Eve produced about the same number of drunk-driving arrests as a normal weekend.
Officials in the District, Virginia and Maryland were still trying to assess the impact of their widely publicized efforts, but according to preliminary statistics there was only one alcohol-related driving death in the area New Year's Eve.
At selected locations in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, police set up roadblocks to check all passing drivers for signs of drunkenness. Those who appeared sober were allowed to continue and those appearing drunk were led through a series of sobriety tests that produced some arrests.
In the District, police doubled their regular traffic patrol and made at least 22 arrests. In Virginia, where authorities employed no special plans to combat drunk drivers, most jurisdictions reported an average number of alcohol-related arrests.
Fairfax police, however, reported a drinking-related traffic death, the only reported such incident of the night in the metropolitan area. According to Fairfax police, Susan Marie Herzog, 18, of Cove Road, was killed at about 1:18 a.m. yesterday morning when her car was hit head-on by a car driven by a 17-year-old youth whom police described as drunk. Police said the youth hit Herzog's car as he crossed the center line in the 10200 block of Commonwealth Boulevard. He has been charged with driving while intoxicated.
Arlington police reported about seven drunk driving arrests, though police said their figures were imcomplete. Alexandria police reported one arrest and Falls Church, none. Prince George's, which employed the "sobriety checkpoint" program for the first time, reported 12 drunk-driving arrests, and police in the county said they would continue the use of roadblocks and sobriety tests through the rest of the weekend.
Montgomery County, which has made close to 100 drunk-driving arrests since a special program was started there in October, reported only about 10 arrests, though the county's statistics were incomplete. The police usually set up the roadblocks in the Wheaton-Glenmont area only, but the New Year's effort expanded the program throughout the county.
While increased enforcement efforts may have yielded inconclusive results, officials in Montogomery County and the District reported an "overwhelming" response to separate programs set up to provide free rides home to people who felt they were too drunk to drive.
The Montgomery County service provided 58 free cab rides home to people who decided they couldn't drive, police said. In the District, the free service was operated by an alcochol treatment program and provided between 30 and 40 rides.
The District program will operate for one more evening. It will serve only those who are in a public place in the District and who live inside the Beltway. The number is 269-7777.