State kicks off drunk driving campaign

Staff report

RALEIGH — The state Department of Transportation and Governor’s Highway Safety Program intend to make roadways safer for residents and visitors by cracking down on drunk drivers during the Labor Day holiday.

State officials kicked off the annual Labor Day Booze It & Lose It campaignthat began Friday and runs until Sept. 5, at the conclusion of the North Carolina Highway Safety Symposium.

“We want everyone in North Carolina to enjoy this Labor Day holiday and make safe choices,” said N.C. Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson. “Our ultimate goal is to eliminate alcohol-related accidents and fatalities by getting impaired drivers off the road through education and enforcement efforts.”

During last year’s Booze It & Lose It campaign, state and local law enforcement arrested 3,523 impaired drivers through more than 13,500 sobriety checkpoints across the state. State law makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

The mission of the Booze It & Lose It campaign aligns closely with Gov. Pat McCrory’s N.C. Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate all traffic-related injuries and fatalities through strategic coordinated efforts with public and private partners in traffic safety. According to the Booze It & Lose It website there were 339 alcohol-related fatalities in 2015.

“Drunk driving is selfish and dangerous,” said Don Nail, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “We need everyone to not only make safe decisions for themselves, but also to look out for others. If you know someone is about to drive impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact the police immediately.”

North Carolina has six levels of DWI laws, all of which include 30-day driver’s license suspension, a fine of at least $200, a minimum of 24 hours in jail and a substance abuse assessment. The levels are determined by the judge along with other mitigating factors like your BAC, blood alcohol concentration, prescription medications, driving record and DWI history.

The most severe penalty is the Aggravated Level 1 DWI where offenders have their license suspended for 30 days, pay up to a $10,000 fine, spend one to three years in jail, have court monitored abstinence from alcohol for four months after being released from prison and a substance abuse assessment.

A full rundown of the potential penatlies assocaited with being convicted of a DWI in North Carolina can be found on the DMV website,

In conjunction with the enforcement campaign, state officials will utilize the “Be Smarter Than That” campaign to provide easy access to safe transportation options for members of the public who plan to drink alcohol. The website allows users to designate a sober driver, download a ride app, find public transportation options and find a taxi based on their location.

Staff report

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