RALEIGH -The holiday season is a time of celebration with family and friends. The Governor's Highway Safety Program reminds drivers that those fun-filled festivities can take a tragic turn if they get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. In an effort to curb drunk driving, GHSP today kicked off the Holiday "Booze It & Lose It" campaign at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
"This is a joyous time of the year," said Don Nail, director of GHSP. "Law enforcement across the state is working to ensure it stays that way by catching those who make a bad decision and drive after consuming too much alcohol."
Although deaths as a result of an impaired driver are down 31.2 percent in North Carolina this year, any life lost because of an impaired driver is one too many. At this point in 2012, there were 409 alcohol-related fatalities, and currently in 2013, there have been 291.
In an effort to continue that trend, law enforcement officers across the state will hold checkpoints and step up patrols to catch drivers who break the law during the holidays. Among those officers are the seven members of the new DWI Task Force in Mecklenburg County. The county has led the state for the past five years (2007-2011) in alcohol-related fatalities. Of the 79 deaths on roads in the county 2012, 36 of them involved the use of alcohol.
The new Charlotte-Mecklenburg DWI Task Force is completely funded through a GHSP grant in its first year, which began on Oct. 1. In its second year, the task force will be 85 percent funded by GHSP and 15 percent by local agencies. In its third year, the funding will shift to a 70-percent contribution from GHSP and 30 percent from local agencies. In its fourth year, GHSP and local agencies will evenly split the funding.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg DWI Task Force represents the eighth such task force in the state, responsible for working nightly to catch impaired drivers. The other task forces are in:
New Hanover County;
Robeson County; and
To help share the "Booze It & Lose It" message, the N.C. Department of Transportation produced a public service announcement to remind motorists to make sure they are on Santa's nice list by not drinking and driving.
The Holiday "Booze It & Lose It" campaign runs from today, Dec. 13, through New Year's and ends on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.