Raleigh DWI Squad targets downtown

Raleigh DWI enforcement is about to pick up with the introduction of a new Driving While Impaired squad, funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that is principally charged with funding drunk driving policing across the country.

You’ll remember that NHTSA is the same agency that proposed reducing the per se limit in DWIs from a .08 to a .05 this past spring. While that proposal has yet to go into effect, other NHTSA

As the News & Observer reports:

But members of the DWI squad will have only one duty: the apprehension of impaired drivers. The officers do not have to answer any other 911 calls unless they involve violence.

“Part of the grant requirement is the officers have to spend the majority of their time doing DWI enforcement or else we lose the grant,” Tomczak said.

Raleigh police expect the number of DWI arrests to increase with the new team. The department currently averages about 1,500 DWI arrests a year. Tomczak thinks a DWI squad’s presence on Raleigh’s highways could increase that number to 2,200 to 2,300 arrests a year.

The federal grant is monitored by the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program. Don Nail, the highway safety program director, said the state got its first DWI squads in 2010 in Robeson and Columbus counties, in the southeastern part of the state, and Forsyth County – places that highway specialists determined had the highest incidence of driver-impaired vehicle crashes.

We will see how having a half million dollar grant devoted entirely to DWI enforcement influences that enforcement. An increase in enforcement will surely catch more people who are impaired, but is likely to also increase the number of people who are not impaired, but who are charged with DWI.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.