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Drink and drive this 4th, and expect DWI or worse, officials warn

2007 News & Observer file photo

State transportation officials are casting a warning common to this time of year.

Law enforcement is beefing up its presence on roadways this Fourth of July weekend in hopes of discouraging people from drinking and driving, and endangering lives.

“If you choose to head out to a Fourth of July party and make the terrible decision to drink and drive, don’t be mistaken – if you get caught, you will be arrested,” said Robert Broome, interim director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “This is deadly, irresponsible behavior, and law enforcement will be out in full force to put a stop to it wherever they can.”

“Operation Firecracker,” the GHSP’s annual “Booze It & Lose It” campaign, runs through Sunday, July 9. Last year, the campaign resulted in 1,729 charges of driving while impaired statewide.

The warning is merited. Over the past four years, transportation officials said, alcohol was a factor in 33 percent of all traffic deaths around the Fourth. Impaired-driving crashes killed 13 people during the holiday last year.

Alcohol was reportedly a contributing factor in a fatal crash near Four Oaks on Friday, the first day of “Operation Firecracker.” A checkpoint in Raleigh later the same night and into early Saturday morning resulted in 12 DWI charges and two open container violations, among others.

“It is important to make safe decisions before you drink, but it is also important to look out for others,” the Department of Transportation said in a press release. “If you know someone who is about to drive impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to their destination. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately. You could be the difference between life and death.”

The GHSP also has a “Don’t Drink and Drive. You’re Smarter Than That” campaign that offers pointers for people to get home safely.

People are encouraged to visit www.besmarterthanthat.com, which offers assistance for planning safe travel.

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