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N.C. Highway Patrol Puts 'Heat' On Drunken Drivers

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Highway Patrol says it's going on the offensive this week to reduce the number of wrecks caused by impaired drivers.
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    "We're going to crack down on drunk drivers statewide, especially in areas that have had the most alcohol-related collisions," said Lt. Everett Clendenin with the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

    The Highway Patrol is launching a weeklong initiative, dubbed Operation Summer Heat, to reduce alcohol-related crashes, injuries and fatalities on state highways.

    The operation will last seven days starting Monday, with checkpoints and roving patrols in the counties that had the highest number of alcohol-related collisions between June and September of last year.

    Last summer, there were 2,028 alcohol-related crashes that killed 47 people in North Carolina.

    Buncombe County led the state with 71 alcohol-related crashes during that four-month period. Johnston County was next with 67 collisions and three fatalities, followed by Wake County with 63 alcohol-related crashes and three fatalities.

    "Obviously, we don't have enough troopers to be on every stretch of road of every highway at every minute, so we have to focus our efforts on the areas where we already know statistically where the greatest problems are," said Bryan Beatty with North Carolina Crime Control and Public Safety.

    Among the problem spots in Wake County are U.S. Highway 64 East and U.S. highways 401 and 1 in northern Wake County.

    Troopers said the way some drivers disregard the law drives Operation Summer Heat.

    "Just last week, one of our troopers arrested a person in Wake County who registered a .33 (blood-alcohol level), and the legal limit is .08," said 1st Sgt. David Langley with the Highway Patrol. "So, why someone would even consider driving a vehicle like that is unreal to me."


    Mark Roberts, Reporter
    Richard Adkins, Photographer
    Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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