03/15/06 — Officers set sights on 'illegal' drivers

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Officers set sights on 'illegal' drivers

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on March 15, 2006 2:03 PM

As the weather warms, more and more motorists are taking to Wayne County's roads, and if they do not have the proper documentation to be on the road, local law enforcement officers will take them off.

Goldsboro police officers and Highway Patrol troopers are conducting more random checkpoints to spot drivers without licenses, liability insurance or valid registrations or to find hazardous moving violations.

Police Maj. M.D. Hopper said the checkpoints are not meant to harass the motoring public but to make sure each vehicle is properly insured, registered and inspected and each driver has a valid operator's license. If not, then the driver can be charged, and the vehicle taken off the road.

"Under a new state law, an officer can take the tags from a vehicle at the scene if it does not have insurance," Hooper said. "That takes the vehicle off the road."

At the same time, Hopper said many people drive with revoked licenses. These drivers can be charged at the scene, handcuffed and taken to the magistrates' office where bond must be posted.

The checkpoints also ensure that drivers and passengers wear safety belts.

The percentage of drivers wearing seat belts has gone up in North Carolina, Hopper said.

"Each additional percentage point does save more lives," he said.

First Sgt. T.M. McLeod, who supervises the Wayne County district of the Highway Patrol, said his troopers will always do random license checks, but he added that there is no special campaign under way now.

However, Goldsboro police will join the Highway Patrol and Mount Olive police next weekend for a Booze It and Lose It checkpoint at an unannounced location.

In other enforcement news, Hopper said more police officers are being sent to a special school so that they can recognize impaired drivers better.

"Many accidents are caused by impaired drivers," Hopper said, "and the intoxicated driver usually walks away and many times the innocent driver goes to the hospital."

Hopper said the police will order a new speed trailer and two special vehicles, a Ford Expedition and a Ford Crown Victoria, from state grant money to deal with increased speeding in residential neighborhoods.

"Speeding is one of the biggest complaints we get," he said.

Radar will be set up on Hooks River Road, Franklin Street and other places in the next few days.

"Our society is 24-7," Hopper said. "People need to slow down a little, plan their day and not wait to the last minute to go somewhere. Then you get caught in traffic, and there is road rage and accidents."