WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The 4th of July is just days away, and that means time for fireworks and fun. It also means one of law enforcement's busiest weekends when the fun gets out of control.
"If you have a drink, get a designated driver, because we're gonna catch you," said David Weinstein, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "We mean business."
Weinstein came to New Hanover County today to help kick off the GHSP's Booze It and Lose It: Operation Firecracker. Law enforcement across the state have teamed up to crack down on drivers with help from the state's BAT Mobile.
If a driver is stopped and believed to be impaired, officers then bring the driver into the BAT Mobile. They then have to blow into a breathalyzer. If they blow over the legal limit, they then see a magistrate that's waiting for them on the bus. But law enforcement can only do so much.
"We do not want the people who break the law and drink and drive to get out on a technicalities," Weinstein said.
Officers say checkpoint training is intense. The training is the ticket to make sure all drunk drivers face the repercussions. Once charged, the charges fall into the hands of the judicial system, which some say does not always prove to be effective.
"You spend that kind of time with them, have formed an opinion about them and there's no doubt in your mind that they are impaired, and then they fall through the cracks," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Chad Parks. "That's discouraging."
According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina has one of the highest DWI arrest rates in the nation. But for every one DWI arrest, 2,000 do not get caught. So officers remind drivers to be alert and remember, if you're gonna booze it, you're gonna lose it.
About 1.3 million people are charged with DWI in the United States annually. Five percent of those arrests are made in North Carolina. Officers charged more than 1,000 North Carolina motorists with DWI during last years 4th and July Booze It and Lose It campaign.