DWI enforcement a 2015 mission

Published 9:02 pm Monday, January 5, 2015

NEWS_HIGHWAY PATROL DWI NUMBERS_150106_WEBThe North Carolina State Highway Patrol announced Monday that its emphasis for the new year will be DWI enforcement and the reduction of alcohol-related collisions.

“In 2015, we will continue to stand firm on our mission of saving lives and providing safe travel throughout our great state,” said Colonel Bill Grey, commander of the State Highway Patrol, in a press release. “Our troopers will work diligently to enforce the DWI laws and remove impaired drivers from our roadways. Through DWI education and enforcement along with the help of our citizens, we can and will make our roadways safer.”

Locally, the announcement is simply an extension of what troopers are trying to do every day, according First Sgt. Brandon Craft, who oversees the Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington county region for the Highway Patrol.

“Last week we had extra people out working for the New Year’s holiday,” Craft said. “It resulted in 12 DWIs over the week. (There were) no alcohol-related crashes, so week one was a success.”

Craft said the district averages 50 to 60 alcohol-related crashes each year, and an average of 400 DWI arrests per year. However, there was a 21-percent drop, from 61 to 48, of alcohol-related crashes between 2013 and 2014.

Craft chalks this up to people heeding the warnings not to drink and drive.

“I think it’s a combination of people getting smarter and not drinking and driving and a combination of us being out there making arrests and preventing it before the wrecks happen,” Craft said.

To aid in keeping drunk drivers off the road, the local agency will be getting more help soon.

“We’ve been down three troopers for several months now and they’ll be reporting to the area in February. So hopefully that will help with our DWI enforcement, as well as all the other enforcement we do,” Craft said.

According to the press release, in 2014, the Highway Patrol made 20,012 DWI arrests and investigated 5,460 alcohol-related collisions contributing to 3,697 reported injuries and 181 deaths — a 20-percent decrease from the 228 people killed in 2013.

“People just need to continue to be smart and have designated drivers,” Craft said. “Don’t drink and drive — just like the commercials say.”