Lawmen on alert for intoxicated drivers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

AHOSKIE – The message is as simple as it sounds – don’t drink and drive.&uot;

Those are the words of North Carolina State Highway Patrol First Sgt. B.A. Jones of the NCHP’s Troop A office in Ahoskie.

With the New Year’s holiday weekend beginning tomorrow, Sgt. Jones said the troopers assigned to his office would be &uot;highly visible&uot; on area roadways.

&uot;We will be out in force, keeping a close eye on those who choose to drink and drive,&uot; he stressed. &uot;My best advice is that if you do choose to consume alcoholic beverages at a New Year’s party, make plans for someone sober to drive you home. Better yet, if possible, stay where you are at and drive home the next day.&uot;

The consequences of going against that advice are not pleasant.

&uot;It’s a whole lot cheaper in the long run not to drink and drive,&uot; noted Sgt. Jones. &uot;If you are caught behind the wheel of a vehicle and you are legally intoxicated, then we’ll be happy to give you a ride, but it’s not to a place you had planned. If you drink and drive, you’ll be going to jail.&uot;

The NCHP and other area law enforcement agencies are serious when it comes to breaking the law concerning drinking and driving.

Now in the final week of its annual &uot;Booze It and Lose It&uot; campaign, the NCHP has been extremely vigilant in regards to those breaking motor vehicle laws.

Last week, law enforcement teams in Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties combined to conduct 31 traffic checking stations and saturation patrols. There, 11 motorists were charged with Driving While Impaired (DWI). Three of those arrests were for drivers under the age of 21. Hertford County led the way with five DWI violations.

In addition to the DWI arrests, area lawmen wrote 124 speeding tickets, doled out 59 seat belt violations and cited 16 others for driving while license were revoked. Five others were charged with criminal violations, including one drug arrest. All five were charged in Hertford County.

&uot;As you can see, we are not only looking out for DWI offenders,&uot; said Sgt. Jones. &uot;Please buckle-up, and make sure that the child passengers in your vehicle are properly restrained.&uot;

He continued, &uot;Speed is also one of the main factors behind motor vehicle accidents. Please abide by the posted speed limits or be prepared to receive a speeding ticket.&uot;

Jones also reminded all drivers and passengers of the open container law in North Carolina. He said that the law prohibits any type of open container (spirits, wine or beer) inside the passenger area of a vehicle. He urged those transporting such items to a party or other holiday gathering to properly store those containers in the trunk of the vehicle.

In the first four weeks of the 10th annual &uot;Booze It and Lost It&uot; campaign, state and local law enforcement officers have arrested 4,374 motorists for DWI. The campaign began on Nov. 19 and continues until Jan. 2.

Counties with the highest DWI totals from Dec. 13-19 include Durham (48) and Mecklenburg (47). Five counties recorded at least 30 DWIs each, including Buncombe, (30), Iredell (33), Onslow (31), Robeson (36) and Wake (31).

In addition to impaired-driving charges, officers statewide last week noted 2,965 safety belt and 386 child passenger safety violations during 2,304 checkpoints and stepped-up patrols. Officers also wrote 48,437 speeding tickets and discovered a total of 676 drug charges, 54 stolen vehicles and 16 fugitives from justice.

A total of 29,526 traffic and criminal citations were issued during the period.