Highway Patrol, Wildlife, Local Law Enforcement Focus on Impaired Drivers, Operators

drunk boating
A Wildlife Officer performs a field sobriety test on a boater. (File photo courtesy WRC)

Drinking and driving on the road or the water this weekend could mean a trip to jail rather than to the beach or pool.

After 2021’s highway death toll was the highest since 1973, agencies across the state are stepping up patrols through Sept. 11 to stop impaired drivers during the annual Labor Day Booze It and Lose It campaign.
Driving while impaired is against the law and could be deadly and expensive. People charged with DWI can lose their license and pay thousands of dollars in court fees.
“By finding a sober ride home, you can prevent a fun summer night from turning tragic,” said Mark Ezzell, director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “More than 400 North Carolina families lost loved ones last year in alcohol-related crashes, and if we can stop even one family from experiencing this kind of loss, it will have been worth it.”
 In 2021, 423 people died on North Carolina roads due to alcohol-related crashes, including 15 during the Labor Day Booze It and Lose It enforcement campaign period.
 The patrols won’t stop on the highways, either.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) North Carolina will once again work together on the public safety campaign, “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” with events and safety check points throughout the state on Labor Day Weekend. 

The multi-agency safety initiative aims to reduce alcohol-related incidents on the state’s waterways and roadways, both which have increased traffic during holidays.

“It’s imperative to designate a sober driver whether you’re in a vehicle or on a boat,” said Lieutenant Forrest Orr of the Wildlife Commission. “A sober vessel operator and vehicle driver greatly improves your chances of a safe and incident-free time on the road and on the water.”

Over the last two holiday weekends (Memorial Day and Fourth of July) Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers issued approximately 1,000 boating citations, 115 which involved Boating Under the Influence.

While wildlife law enforcement officers will be patrolling public waterways, the NCSHP will be working in concert with other agencies on the roads.

“It’s easy to forget that if you’ve been a passenger on a boat all day and drinking, and then dock and drive home, now you’re an intoxicated driver,” said Orr. “That’s why our agencies must work in tandem to keep our roads and waters safe.”

In North Carolina, a driver or vessel operator with a blood-alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds .08 or is substantially impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, is subject to arrest. 

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About Jefferson Weaver 1385 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and the News Director for WTXY AM1540 & Kool 103.9FM Radio. He can be reached at (910) 632-4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@ColumbusCountyNews.com.