NC authorities team up, prep for DWI checkpoints on land, water

sgilman@newsobserver.comMay 19, 2014 

  • DWI checkpoint dates

    • May 23, 24, 25 and 26

    • June 27, 28 and 29

    • July 4, 5 and 6

    • Aug. 29, 30, 31 and Sept. 1

Correction: This story incorrectly stated that law enforcement will be able to determine blood alcohol levels. Law enforcement will actually be conducting breath alcohol testing.

FALLS LAKE - Over Memorial Day and other key summer weekends, North Carolina law enforcement agencies will set up DWI checkpoints at several popular boating locations to keep intoxicated drivers off the road and off the water.

Members of the N.C. State Highway Patrol, the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Alcohol Law Enforcement division are joining forces for the fourth year in a row to hold their “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign. Checkpoints in the Triangle will include locations at Upper Barton Creek at Falls Lake and Farrington Point at Jordan Lake.

Boaters are allowed to consume beer and wine, but boat operators are not allowed to be under the influence of alcohol. And anyone driving home from a day of fun at the lake cannot have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more.

“We wish it was as simple as telling people, but it’s not,” said Todd Radabaugh, captain of the law enforcement division of the Wildlife Resources Commission. “We beg ’em, please have a designated operator.”

Last Memorial Day, law enforcement in North Carolina reported 9,484 alcohol violations, the lowest in three years. That compares to 11,764 in 2011. The number of arrests dropped from 370 to 310 from 2012 to 2013.

At a press event Monday, the agencies showcased one of the buses they will use at each of the checkpoints. Emblazoned with “Booze It and Lose It,” and “Don’t Drink and Drive” slogans, the buses are large enough for a bathroom, a magistrate and police officer workspace, and forensic services to test people’s breath alcohol levels.

“I think it’s an awesome campaign that we can join with wildlife (commission) and combine resources,” said Michael Baker, a spokesman with the Highway Patrol.

The three agencies focus on different areas of alcohol law enforcement: the Highway Patrol on roadways, Alcohol Law Enforcement on underage drinking and Wildlife Resources Commission on waterways.

‘Not just numbers’

Joining representatives of those agencies Monday was LaRonda Scott, director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in North Carolina.

“These are not just numbers. These are sons and daughters, friends and family,” Scott said. “Each crash, each death, each injury affects friends and family and co-workers and more.”

The checkpoints will have members of the various agencies present, and all drivers passing through the checkpoints will be tested for alcohol.

“Those individuals we cannot reach through education, we will reach through enforcement,” said Bill Grey, commander of the Highway Patrol. “Last year, over 32,000 people died on our nation’s highways. One third of those were impaired. These are not simply numbers. They are loved ones torn away from us.”

Checkpoints will occur over the summer for holidays including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to make people aware of the dangers of boating under the influence, takes place from June 27 through 29.

Gilman: 919-829-8955

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