A Sunday afternoon multi-agency law enforcement checkpoint in Clinton netted more than 170 charges, up from a similar sobriety stop held just two months ago.
The checkpoint, spearheaded by the Clinton Police Department, was held between 4 and 8:30 p.m. on the northbound lanes of U.S. 421, near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. A similar checking station was held back in June, amassing 146 total charges as officers set up in the southbound lanes. As with that prior checkpoint, the Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch was again on site with its breath alcohol testing (BAT) mobile.
Other participants in Sunday afternoon’s stop included the Clinton Police Department, Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle’s License and Theft Division, N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement and N.C. State Highway Patrol. Sampson County’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter was represented, there was a magistrate on hand and four Detention Center officers were also on site.
There were a total of 26 law enforcement officers present. A total of 177 violations were doled out.
Stops can be coordinated at different times, depending on the day of the week, time of year and the anticipated traffic.
“We were anticipating getting some of the crowd coming back from the beach, with school starting back up again,” Clinton Police Chief Donald Edwards said. “It went very well, especially considering we were only sitting there for four and a half hours.”
Violations included one driving while impaired (DWI) offense and two under 21 years of age operators in possession of alcohol. Additionally, there were 13 driving while license revoked charges, 42 no operator’s license charges, three open container offenses , two seat belt violations, one child passenger safety violations and 103 other traffic offenses.
Additionally, there were six misdemeanor drug violations, one felony drug violation and two other felony charges leveled. One fugitive was apprehended, on a charge of failure to register as a sex offender, and one firearm was seized.
The Clinton Police Department, along with its partners, are actively involved in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) throughout the year.
“I appreciate all of the partners that came out and participated,” Edwards noted of the Sunday check.
The overall mission of the GHSP is to promote highway safety awareness in effort to reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the state of North Carolina through the planning and execution of safety programs.
Those programs include various checkpoints and enforcement campaigns, including “Click It or Ticket” and “Booze It & Lose It,” the latter of which zeroes in on drunken drivers through innovative education and extensive enforcement of DWI laws. Sobriety checkpoints, such as the one Sunday in Clinton, are continually set up in all North Carolina counties as part of the state’s anti-drunk driving campaign.
Law officers use mobile breath-alcohol testing units, better known as BATmobiles, to increase the efficiency of on-site DWI processing. Coordination of the checkpoints is ongoing, as to get access to the BATmobiles takes planning well ahead of time.
“We try to coordinate with the BATmobile,” said Edwards. “We don’t have to have it. We can set up smaller ones, with seat belt checking points. The BATmobile has to be booked well in advance — weeks ahead of time — and that’s what we try to do.”
In fact, as Sunday’s stop was ongoing, planning was already underway in securing the BATmobile for a future stop.
“The officers are discussing while they are out on the scene,” said Edwards, “and when they get back to the office, the planning continues.”
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.