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Booze It and Lose It Campaign Begins

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PITTSBORO — A lot of drunk driving occurs behind the wheel -- but in increasing instances, that wheel is on a boat. In a manner of speaking, North Carolina's "Booze It and Lose It" campaign set sail Monday morning.

Motorists are familiar with law enforcement setting up road blocks to check for alcohol and drug infractions; now the state is including waterways as well as roadways in its campaign against drunk driving.

At the Vista Point area of Jordan Lake, law officers were briefed about the "Booze It and Lose It" campaign. Last year, wildlife officers arrested 207 boaters for drunk driving. The legal limit for operating a motor boat while impaired is .08.

Over the July 4th holiday weekend, boaters will face checkpoints similar to those staged for motorists.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that the July 4 holiday week is the deadliest time of year on the roads.

"In 1997, we're seeing that 462 people lost their lives in North Carolina alone. If you think about that, that would be two airline crashes in one year in North Carolina and if we heard that, we would be stunned," said Karyn Brown, state director of MADD

"I would like for them to think about it when they take their first drink. How are they going to get back home?" suggested Col. E.W. Horton of the state highway patrol. "If they are going to drink anyway, get a designated driver who will not be drinking."

Lieutenant Governor Dennis Wicker helped law enforcement officers from all over the state kick off the Booze It and Lose It campaign at Jordan Lake. The highway patrol will set up roadblocks and have extra troopers on the road throughout the holiday weekend.

There are a couple new tools that officers have to help them. New DWI laws allow the impoundment of vehicles belonging to habitual offenders; so far 2300 vehicles have been rounded up.

And North Carolina's driver's laws are being distributed in Spanish, to ensure that as many people as possible have a chance to read about the laws and consequences before they get behind the wheel.

Drinking alcohol and boating is not only dangerous, it's illegal. The legal blood alcohol level is the same whether a person is behind the wheel of car or a boat.

Fines can range up to $5,000 with a year in jail. But those numbers shouldn't scare you as much as this fact: alcohol is involved in one-third of all boating fatalities.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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