By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
ROCKY MOUNT —
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s (GHSP) St. Patrick’s Day “Booze It & Lose It” campaign resulted in 690 motorists being cited for driving while impaired, including six in Edgecombe County. The campaign ran from March 15-17.
"Any time we can take a driver off the road who is in violation of driving while impaired, it is important," said Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight. "It helps prevent accidents. We always participate in these programs. We don't take them lightly."
The statewide campaign also resulted in 1,458 safety belt and 258 child passenger seat safety violations, 5,842 speeding violations and 555 drug charges. In addition, law enforcement apprehended 407 fugitives and recovered nine stolen vehicles.
Edgecombe County reported manning 12 check points and issuing 135 total traffic and criminal violations. The majority of the violations were for speeding, with 41 citations issued. Edgecombe also reported 14 drug violations. Knight noted the county numbers included the Tarboro Police Department, Pinetops Police Department, Rocky Mount Police Department and the N.C. Highway Patrol.
Statewide, law enforcement officials conducted 2,391 sobriety checkpoints and dedicated patrols. Counties with the highest number of DWI citations were Wake (54), Guilford (33) and Forsyth (31).
“We hope to bring a clear message to motorists by increasing enforcement efforts, don’t drink and drive,” GHSP Director Becky Wallace said. “Always be responsible and choose a designated driver before you get behind the wheel.”
Knight said his department also does random checkpoints throughout the year. He said the checkpoints are not to harass drivers, but to make the highway safer.
"Some people think they can drive when they take a drink and it doesn't affect them," Knight said. "This is not true. What they don't understand is that when impaired drivers get behind the wheel, they are endangering the lives of everybody that is on the road. It only takes one mistake to cause an accident when a driver is sober. The percentage of a driver making a mistake while impaired increases. That's why having checkpoints are important."