Looking out for impaired drivers

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 08:36 AM

The final Booze It and Lose it campaign of the year begins today and will last until Jan. 2, spanning two major holiday periods.
An initiative of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, Booze It and Lose It is geared toward bringing awareness to drinking and driving and/or the use of prescription/illegal drugs and the effects combining the two can have in an effort to reduce driving while impaired (DWI) incidents.
The holiday campaign covering the Christmas and New Year’s holidays is the longest of the five campaigns held throughout the year.
“We’ll be doing our best to catch people driving while impaired,” North Carolina Highway Patrol First Sgt. G.W. McClelland said. “We’ll be running some projects with other local agencies to get these people off the roads.”
Law enforcement officials across the state will place an emphasis on drunken driving and driving while under the influence of drugs during the campaign, while continuing to monitor all driving behavior.
The Christmas and New Year’s holidays see more people home from work along with an increase in social gatherings. Alcohol often is served at such gatherings, heightening the chances of an incident involving an impaired motorist.
“There are going to be people out shopping, they have more time off and they may be going to parties,” McClelland said. “Alcohol does not need to be mixed with any of that.”
Troopers want people to know that is important for people who drink alcohol or use drugs (prescription or illegal) to refrain from getting behind the wheel of a car.
“We wish we had voluntary compliance, and that people would not drink and drive or be impaired in any way,” McClelland said. “That doesn’t always happen. Use a designated driver and be sure that designated driver has not been drinking.”
Motorists are reminded that the illegal blood alcohol content in North Carolina is .08, and alcohol is the second leading cause of vehicle crashes in the state behind speed.
A first offense for DWI can lead to the suspension of a driver’s license for 30 days, and if convicted, the loss of driving privileges for up to 12 months. DWI convictions also can lead to a total loss of driving privileges and even increased insurance rates, not to mention damage to vehicles or other property.
“We want people to enjoy their holidays and have fun at their gatherings, but we ask that they do so responsibly, for their own safety as well as the safety of others who may be traveling,” McClelland said.