This is no ordinary Labor Day weekend in Raleigh. The weekend traditionally marks the unofficial end of summer, but this year it also marks the early stages of the Democratic National Convention. The usual stepped up drunk driving enforcement campaign will likely increase exponentially over the next two weeks. The convention is scheduled to adjourn on Thursday, Sept. 6.
North Carolina law enforcement is once again participating in the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign spearheaded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Triangle is fielding just a handful of the 10,000 local, county and state law enforcement agencies involved this year. Every state has signed on.
According to the NHTSA, law enforcement across the country made 1.4 million DWI arrests in 2009. Here in North Carolina, 2011 saw 52,000 DWI arrests, a 6 percent drop from 2011.
Drive Sober includes a law enforcement component and an education/public awareness component. In the law enforcement category, stepped up street patrols and more sobriety checkpoints will be in place throughout the state through Labor Day. In the Triangle, drivers can expect to see breath alcohol testing vehicles out and about as well. Police departments have vowed to aggressively pursue motorists who drink and drive and to prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
NHTSA educational materials explain that Labor Day is one of the deadliest holidays of the year; the weekend has accounted for 900 drunk driving fatalities in the last five years, or about 180 each year. North Carolina has seen about 400 fatal alcohol-related crashes (year-round) over the past couple of years.
Drive Sober will wrap up just as delegates arrive by the plane load in Raleigh. Local and county law enforcement are expected to be out in force throughout the week, especially as high profile candidates, including the president, arrive. Motorists need only look at other cities’ experiences with political conventions to know that the number of arrests can increase exponentially during these events as police attempt to control the crowds. Raleigh could see more arrests for minor offenses and traffic violations if the pattern holds. And, unfortunately, the increase in arrests can mean a logjam of arraignments.
Our message: For the next two weeks, Raleigh, be extra careful out there.
Source: WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durham), “Nationwide crackdown on drunk driving,” Aug. 14, 2012
Our firm handles similar situations to the ones discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our North Carolina drunk driving defense page.