RALEIGH, N.C. — On New Year's Eve, checkpoints and road blocks have traditionally been the method of choice for ridding the roads of drunken drivers. However, this year, you will not see many in the area.
The strategy this year, according to law officers, is to be more mobile with more unmarked cars instead of tying up 20 or 30 patrolmen at one checkpoint.
"The typical checkpoint that's going to take place on 'Booze It and Lose It' takes a lot of planning to get together," said Sgt. Everett Clendenin, of the state Highway Patrol.
"Our units will be out moving where they can be very fluid in their motions and can be out moving around in different areas where we are hearing specific problems," said Maj. Dennis Lane, of the Raleigh Police Department.
The Highway Patrol believes roaming, unmarked cars will be just as effective at catching drunken drivers as checkpoints. In fact, officials said checkpoints were more effective at catching other types of crimes, everything from stolen cars to drug possession.
Last December, drunken driving accounted for only about a third of the total arrests made at checkpoints.
"We don't think this area of the state will be missing anything by us doing the campaign this way," Clendenin said.
The Highway Patrol said there will be checkpoints in other parts of the state. They have several "Booze it and Lose it" checkpoints planned in Charlotte.
Drunken driving is a year-round problem in North Carolina. According to the state Department of Transportation, there were more than 12,000 accidents involving alcohol last year, of which 431 of them were fatal. Drunken drivers cause more accidents in December than almost every other month. There were 953 last year, compared to 886 in 2002.