State Highway Safety Showcase
Van Donation for DUI Mobile Command Center
Teens in Plainville, Connecticut are helping police keep impaired drivers off the road by remodeling a van to serve as a mobile command center.
The 1991 Ford van before remodeling...
The Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office donated the 1991 Ford van to the Plainville Police Department. Plainville was selected to receive the van because the town had high DUI rates, but also was committed to DUI enforcement and had the resources to turn the van into a mobile DUI unit.
“When presented with the opportunity to obtain the van from DOT, we jumped at it,” said Sergeant Chic Smedick of the Plainville Police Department. “In these hard economic times, it was an opportunity to get a breath analysis and command unit for use at sobriety checkpoints, crime scenes and serious crashes.”
Students from Plainville High’s Introduction to Transportation class spent a full school year working on the van, tranforming it into a mobile command center designed to reduce deaths and injuries from impaired drivers. A total of 30 students were responsible for the demolition, the plumbing, electrical work and carpentry for the entire vehicle.
Teacher Jeffrey Wanner, said the opportunity to work on the van was unlike anything the school has ever been presented with: “Our program had never done anything of this magnitude before – nothing of this scale. It was something tangible for them. We knew what it was for, where it was going. The students were all about it from day one - they learned so much.”
The finished vehicle is outfitted with alcohol breathalyzers, computers, two-way communication, desks to process paperwork, and a bathroom for urinalysis tests. A new van outfitted with this type of equipment would typically cost approximately $125,000. Plainville Police spent approximately $5,000 to equip the donated van.
The Plainville Police Department is using the van as part of the Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office’s Comprehensive Under the Influence Enforcement Program. Beginning with the 2011 Labor Day national impaired driving crackdown, the van is:
- Increasing the number of sobriety checkpoints in town;
- Serving as a deterrent to impaired driving;
- Minimizing the time law enforcement spends on processing impaired drivers; and
- Decreasing the number of offenders on the road.
The Plainville Police Department has participated in all of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) national impaired driving enforcement campaigns. Officers have averaged 246 arrests per year over a three-year period.
- Michael Whaley
Highway Safety Office
CT Department of Transportation