LUMBERTON — For the second year in a row, Robeson County had the second most DWI arrests in the state during the annual Fourth of July crackdown on drunken driving, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
During Operation Firecracker, which was held from June 24 to July 4, 1,729 impaired drivers were arrested in North Carolina. Operation Firecracker is part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s Booze It and Lose It campaign.
Robeson County had 116 arrests, second only to Wake County’s 124. Guilford County had the third most with 105, Mecklenburg County had 87, and Cumberland County had the fifth most with 83 arrests.
“I am thankful for the work North Carolina’s law enforcement officers did during the holiday to keep those traveling the state’s roadways safe and to keep the Fourth of July a time for celebration of our nation’s birth,” said Don Nail, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “It is the goal of Governor McCrory’s Vision Zero campaign to reach zero fatalities on our roads in North Carolina and the Booze It and Lose It campaign helps complement that goal.”
The North Carolina Highway Patrol office in Lumberton put in extra effort during the holiday with the safety of those traveling in mind. According to 1st Sgt. Jeremy Brewington, they have added more checkpoints over the past several years to catch drunken drivers from harming themselves or others.
“Driving under the influence decreases judgment, decision making, mental faculties, makes you more likely to be in an accident, and puts the general public in more risk of getting in an accident or being involved in fatalities.” said Brewington. “We are putting more officers on the road and focusing on DWI’s, which are causing a lot of accidents. We have put a huge focus on getting more drivers off the road who are driving under the influence.”
During the past four years, the total number of DWI tickets in Robeson County during Operation Firecracker has continued to climb.
In 2013, officers in Robeson County arrested 51 impaired drivers. In 2014, 86 drivers were arrested, moving the county up to fifth most in the state. Last year 115 drunken drivers were arrested, just one fewer than the total this year.
Brewington added that efforts will continue beyond Operation Firecracker to make sure that people are safe.
“The more of those folks we can get off the highway, the less risk of accident there is,” he said.
Those who are charged and convicted of driving while impaired face consequences that include heavy fines, loss of driving privileges and jail time. Much higher insurance costs also typically follow.
Jack Frederick is an intern for The Robesonian.