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DUI checkpoint in Harford Friday nets impaired drivers and drugs

Highway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersDrug TraffickingMaryland State Police

More than 100 vehicles were stopped and four people were arrested during the Maryland State Police's first "Janet Hardy Memorial Checkpoint" Friday night.

Troopers from the JFK Memorial Highway Barrack held the checkpoint late on the rainy evening in an effort to combat impaired driving in Harford County.

The checkpoint was set up along Route 1 in the Dublin area where Ms. Hardy and two others were killed in a head-on collision on Oct. 26, 2003, which according to police was caused by a drunk driver.

Two drivers stopped Friday were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and two were charged with drug possession, State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo said Monday.

Troopers also recovered 25 heroin capsules from one of the drivers, she said.

State police pulled over 124 drivers during the night.

Glenn Robert Bensley, 50, and Curtis Allan Racavich, 30, were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Tarus Woodall, 37, was charged with possessing marijuana. A fourth person arrested, for allegedly possessing heroin, has not been charged yet, so the Harford County Sheriff's Office cannot release or confirm his name, spokesman Eddie Hopkins said.

Lt. Daniel Fairburn, of Maryland State Police, said they were only given a criminal citation and therefore may not appear in court records.

"This is our first annual memorial checkpoint, so it was certainly successful," Russo said.

Troopers from the JFK Barrack conducted the DUI checkpoint along with troopers from the Bel Air Barrack, North East Barrack and sworn personnel assigned to the MSP Special Operations Division. Deputies from the Harford County Sheriff's Office and personnel from the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company also assisted in the initiative.

Ms. Hardy, who was 13 and a freshman at Perryville High School, died along with Naomi Daphine Gizzi, 55. They were passengers in a box truck driven by Mrs. Gizzi's husband, Leo, and were on their way to deliver apples to the Baltimore farmers market when the truck was hit head-on shortly before 4 a.m. by a pickup truck driven by a 26-year-old Bel Air man, who also died. A granddaughter of the Gizzis, who was a school friend of Ms. Hardy, was also in the box truck and survived the accident.

The accident occurred in the vicinity of Route 1 and Route 440 (Dublin Road) between Darlington and Bel Air. Police at the time said the driver of the pickup was speeding when he lost control of the vehicle on a curve and crossed the center line on the two-lane highway, causing the accident.

Since the accident, Janet's mother, Debbie Hardy, has been an advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

As a community volunteer, Debbie Hardy has inspired countless individuals with her presentations on drunk driving prevention, including the Maryland State Police, the agency said in a media release. Debbie Hardy also established the Janet Marie Hardy Scholarships in her daughter's memory.

Recently, Debbie Hardy visited with state troopers at the JFK Barrack to share her story in an effort to stop this preventable violent crime, State Police said in the media release. Troopers were so moved by her discussion, the decision was made to name their next DUI checkpoint after Janet Hardy.

According to State Police, DUI checkpoints have proven to be a useful strategy in reducing the number of victims injured or killed in crashes involving impaired drivers. Troopers from JFK Barrack made 582 arrests for driving under the influence in 2012, making them the highest producing barrack in the state.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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