07/14/06 — 27 drivers charged with drunken driving in 'Booze It' campaign

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27 drivers charged with drunken driving in 'Booze It' campaign

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 14, 2006 1:47 PM

Twenty-seven motorists were charged by Wayne County authorities with driving while impaired during the two-week "Booze It and Lose It" campaign against drunken driving.

State Highway Patrol troopers, Goldsboro and Fremont police and Wayne County sheriff's deputies conducted 46 checkpoints and 57 saturation and random patrols during the campaign that extended from June 29 to July 9.

"It was very successful," police Maj. M.D. Hopper said.

"We did well," Highway Patrol Sgt. Ken Cooke said. "We had no alcohol-related collisions and no fatalities. From that aspect, it went well."

Cooke said troopers conducted "Operation Slowdown" during day and night shifts on U.S. 70 in an attempt to have motorists observe the 55-mph speed limit. The holiday weekend was not "overwhelming," he said, "but went about like we expected."

The campaign was held by the Governor's Highway Safety Program over the July 4 holiday, because officials said North Carolina drivers were involved in 16 alcohol-related, fatal collisions during the same time last year.

During this year's campaign, 1,742 people were charged with driving while impaired, or DWI, in North Carolina, and 6,973 were cited for seat-belt or child-safety violations.

While the annual statewide campaign focused on impaired drivers, Wayne County officers filed 1,075 total charges, including 116 for seat-belt violations and 18 for child-restraint violations.

"I'd like to see the seat-belt tickets go down," Maj. Hopper said.

Then he noted that back-seat passengers will have to buckle up after Jan. 1, when a new law takes effect.

"We'll give out warning tickets until July 1, 2007, but after that it's a $10 fine," Hopper said.

"Wearing seat belts saves lives," he said. "Some people think it should be an individual's choice, but those who are hurt drive up everyone's medical costs. I have started buckling up in the back seat. It seems strange, but it is an acquired habit."

During the campaign in Wayne County, 273 drivers also were charged with speeding, 83 with driving while their license was revoked, 20 with not having liability insurance, six with reckless driving, one with a graduated license violation and 425 with other traffic offenses.

Goldsboro police issued 451 charges, the Highway Patrol 438, the Sheriff's Office 160 and Fremont police 26.

Twenty-seven drug charges and 74 other criminal charges also were lodged. One stolen vehicle was recovered, and five fugitives were apprehended during the campaign.

During the second reporting period, from July 3 through Sunday, 12 people were charged with driving while impaired, or DWI. Officers also issued 62 seat-belt and 14 child-restraint citations, and they lodged 466 other traffic charges.

Among the Goldsboro Police Department's four shifts, the A-shift filed the most charges, 157, but none were for DWI. C-shift officers charged the most people with DWI, eight. During the second week, B-shift made 84 charges, the most by the department.