State News

Drivers: Watch blood alcohol concentration on 08.08.08

Posted August 8, 2008 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2008 7:13 p.m. EDT

— Friday's date is 08.08.08, but the numbers signify something else to law enforcement – it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration above .08.

To remind people not to drink and drive, law enforcement agencies throughout the state will conduct a "Booze It & Lose It" campaign Friday.

Across the state, officers will set up checkpoints and increase patrols to locate drunken drivers. State officials said they hope the enforcement measure will encourage more residents to comply with the law.

"It pays off," said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. "It makes a person think, 'I'm going to leave this bar drinking. No, wait a minute. I better not leave. The sheriff may have a check station there or Highway Patrol or Raleigh PD (Police Department)."

During a 10-day checkpoint campaign around the July Fourth holiday, law enforcement handed out nearly 1,986 DWI citations at 5,724 checkpoints and patrols. Wake County accounted for 132, Mecklenburg County for 114, and Robeson and New Hanover counties for 61 each.

Officials say the ultimate goal of checkpoints is to save lives. Since April, six people in Raleigh have died in wrecks allegedly caused by drunken drivers.

Lillian Broox Manis, 17, of Chapel Hill, died on July 12 in a head-on collision at Glenwood Avenue and Lake Wheeler Road with a car driven by Justin Caleb Crouse, 19, of 4612 Limerick Drive in Raleigh. Callers to 911 reported that Crouse was driving drunk hours earlier.

Police say Francisco Javier Martinez, 30, of 1925 Village Squire Circle in Knightdale, was driving the wrong way on the Inner Beltline on May 25 when his van struck a sedan. Two brothers – Guillermo Zintzun Jimenez, 26, and Dagoberto Zintzun Jimenez, 21 – and a family friend – Santiago Pascual Tellez, 14 – died.

Christine Haithcock Meyers, 41, of 1149 Blackbeard Lane in Raleigh, faces second-degree murder charges in the deaths of Ruben Dario Medina, 34, and his son, Jefferson, 10. The wreck occurred on April 2 at Buffaloe Road at Westminster Drive in Raleigh.

Most recently, Raleigh police say Eugene Gill, 35, of Apex, was drunk when he caused a wreck that shut down Interstate 40, near Gorman Street, last Thursday night. Gill and two other people were injured.

Last year, nearly 500 North Carolinians died from alcohol-related crashes, and more than 9,000 were severely injured.