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New Hanover, Brunswick Counties have highest state DWI rate

Here's a sobering notion: Brunswick and New Hanover Counties have the highest number of DWI arrests in the entire state. The Highway Patrol says something needs to be done to stop the drunken driving, and one UNCW student may have the solution. UNCW's student body president Dana Thorpe is working on a proposal to start a late night bus system to cut down on the number of drunk drivers on the road. Thorpe said, "I felt that it was in need for UNCW students and the community. A lot of other universities have them and I think it would be great if we had one here." Thorpe has spent months researching his proposal. He is hoping to team up with Wave transit to start a bus run from downtown Wilmington to heavily populated areas of the city. His proposal calls for the buses to run between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m on the weekends -- the time troopers say is the most dangerous to drive on the roads because of drunken drivers. N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. J.O. Holmes said, "That's when people get off work. They want to go out, have a good time and that's when we find the most people." Recent statistics show New Hanover and Brunswick Counties have more drunken driving arrests than any other county in the state. Since January more than 1,000 people have been arrested. "We do have the university and a large percentage of our arrests are young people," Holmes said. Holmes says Thorpe's plan is a step in the right direction to reverse the ever increasing number of drunken drivers. He says making people aware of what drunken driving can do is the most important step. "Educating them to be aware of the consequences, whether it's a crash where they could be injured or fatally injured or whether it's an arrest and the consequences that come with that." Under Thorpe's proposal citizens of New Hanover County and UNCW students would be allowed to ride the buses. Thorpe plans to present his idea to city council on Wednesday. Wave transit says it is considering the plan but is waiting for administrators from UNCW to come forward with the request before making any further comments.

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