Upward of 20 patrol cars stacked alongside the edges of U.S. 70 East and West, with signs alerting oncoming drivers to what was waiting for them up ahead Friday night -- a DWI and traffic violation checkpoint.
The Goldsboro Police Department conducted a four hour checkpoint Friday night and into Saturday morning in an effort to crack down on traffic violations and impaired drivers.
Officers with the police department's B shift and D shift blocked both lanes of U.S. 70 in front of the Country View Western Store from 11 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday.
Several other officers had a satellite checkpoint set up on East Ash Street where it runs into U.S. 70 to catch anyone attempting to skirt the checkpoint.
This weekend's operation came one week after the Governor's Highway Safety Program Booze It and Lose It campaign for St. Patrick's Day.
Traffic team coordinator Sgt. William Van Lenten said the checkpoint had been in the works for several weeks.
The sole checkpoint racked up 88 charges in the span of four hours -- split over the two shifts manned by a total of 30 officers.
"Normally we have campaigns that (St. Patrick's Day) weekend," Van Lenten said. "Last weekend we had the St. Paddy's Day Booze it and Lose It campaign, so we were already out doing smaller checkpoints. Typically we used to do about four of these per year, the larger ones with the BATmobile (Breath Alcohol Testing)."
The state's BATmobile unit was parked in the parking lot of the Country View Western Store.
Inside the unit, there are six breath alcohol testing units where authorities check alcohol levels of suspected impaired drivers, and when necessary, there is a magistrate to process anybody charged.
There is also a drug recognition expert room where anyone suspected to be impaired by anything other than alcohol can be tested for what might be in their system.
Van Lenten said he did not know when the last time the police department conducted a large checkpoint was, and this weekend was an effort to get back in the swing of conducting several large operations per year.
Within minutes of officers blocking the road and setting up traffic cones to narrow both directions of travel down to one lane, a text alert from an automated phone app was sent out notifying people of the checkpoint in progress.
Capt. Paige Learnard, who organized the checkpoint in conjunction with Van Lenten, said she felt the checkpoint went smoothly regardless. Learnard is also the captain of B shift, and said officers with both B and D shift were scheduled to be off, but came in to conduct the checkpoint.
She said officers know that the alerts will be out within minutes and there is nothing they can do about it, but it might help people think twice before hopping behind the wheel while they're impaired.
Van Lenten said people can recognize checkpoints when they see the N.C. Department of Transportation setting up traffic cones to block lanes but do not see any works trucks on location.
He added that as people came into the city in the westbound lane and had to go through checkpoint, they were likely heading to bars, and spread the word once they arrived.
"It changes peoples' decision to go out and drive," Van Lenten said. "All of them going into the city to bars, once they're at the bar they start telling everybody there's a checkpoint, and it spreads the word and prevents bad choices."
More than half of the 88 charges filed throughout the night come from traffic offenses.
According to data provided by police, 17 people were charged for driving while license revoked, 15 people did not have a license, 24 people had registration violations and six people were charged for various drug offenses.
The department also arrested three fugitives during the checkpoint.
Only two people were charged for driving while impaired, one of whom was under 21.