By Paul T. Choate
July 16, 2012. On Friday, July 13, one of the four annual major Watauga County “Booze It & Lose It” checkpoints was set up on N.C. 105 in Foscoe.
In total, 19 citations were given out during the checkpoint, including one driving while impaired charge.
The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the Boone Police Department and the Appalachian State University Police Department had officers present during the checkpoint.
According to Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Captain Kelly Redmon, the local Watauga County authorities try to do four major “Booze It & Lose It” checkpoints in the High Country’s busiest months – June, July, August and September. He said they select the dates of the checkpoints based on when the “Booze It & Lose It” bus – or “BATMobile,” (Blood Alcohol Test Mobile) as they have nicknamed it – is available.
“We try to do one on each of the major highways,” said Redmon. He added that specific locations for checkpoints are usually randomly selected based on field of view and on locations where motorists being cited can easily pull off the road.
Redmon said he expects, depending on the availability of the bus, to have two more major checkpoints in August and September. He stressed the importance of deterrence as much as issuing citations, saying that he’d be just as happy if people simply do not drink and drive.
“As long as everyone is safe, I’m happy,” he said.
In addition to the one driving while impaired charge, Redmon said the other additional charges issued on Friday were: three driving with no license, one driving with license revoked, two expired tags, two seat belts, four underage possession of alcohol, one consuming while driving, one providing alcohol to an underage person, one possession of drug paraphernalia, two possession of marijuana and one possession of a concealed weapon.
According to the North Carolina Alcohol Facts website, there were 326 alcohol involved crashes in Watauga County from 2006 to 2010 (see map). This made up 5.1 percent of all crashes in the county during that time span.
The “Booze It & Lose It” program, as part of the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program, was started in 1994. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation website, “The “Booze It & Lose It” campaign zeros in on drunken drivers with innovative and extensive anti-driving while impaired (DWI) enforcement and education. Sobriety checkpoints are continually set up in all North Carolina counties as part of the state’s highly effective anti-drunk driving campaign.
For the recent “Operation Firecracker” campaign that ran from June 29 to July 9 statewide, week one totals (June 29 to July 2) showed 161 total traffic and criminal violations had been issued in Watauga County – four of which were driving while impaired. For Avery, there were 55 total violations – four of which were driving while impaired.
Totals for July 3 to 9 are not yet available.
For more information about the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit ncdot.gov/programs/GHSP.