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St. Patrick's Day checkpoint surprises Wilson, NC, residents

Injuries and deaths due to drunk drivers and unsafe motor vehicle practices are a tragedy in many ways, but especially because they are preventable. Local, state, and national law enforcement agencies understand that lives can be saved each year by stemming the tide of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and many of them are proactive in their efforts to reduce the number of DUI/DWI incidents within their jurisdictions.

Wilson, North Carolina, residents had a surprise in store for them on St. Patrick's Day when sheriff's deputies, state troopers, and local police set up a checkpoint on Raleigh Road Parkway in the I95 area intent on stopping drunk drivers. Law enforcement officials were hoping to have the same success they had on St. Patrick's Day in 2013 when checkpoints around the state resulted in close to 700 arrests for driving while under the influence.

The checkpoint was operational from late Saturday evening into the early hours of Sunday morning. A total of 81 charges were levied against drivers for various infractions. Four people were charged with suspicion of driving while impaired, 20 were charged with operating without a license, and seven people were charged with driving under a revoked license. A total of 25 citations were given for various traffic violations, including driving unregistered or uninspected vehicles.

The number of safety violations discovered during the course of the checkpoint's operation was surprising. A total of 11 drivers were charged with child restraint violations and an additional two received citations for seat belt violations. The may have also made the job of the local police a little easier, as it netted two arrests for drug offenses, one person was picked up on an outstanding warrant, and eight additional misdemeanor charges were levied.

Drunk driving charges are not to be taken lightly, especially since 2006 when North Carolina legislators made the state's laws even harsher. Legal counsel who is experienced in dealing with the new laws may be able to help those charged with suspicion of DUI, especially if it is their first offense.

Source: The Wilson Times, "St. Patty's Day checkpoint nets 4 DWIs" Corey Friedman, Mar. 18, 2014

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