Operation nets 74 DWI arrests in Durham

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 05:30 PM

Troopers with the N.C. State Highway Patrol arrested 74 drivers on DWI charges during a special Durham operation called Christmas in July that ended Saturday.

The six-person team of troopers worked 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday at checkpoints in the city to arrest motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.

The 14 checkpoints included Miami Boulevard, University Drive, Guess Road and exit ramps off Interstate 85, according to Sgt. Maurice Devalle with the patrol’s Durham office.

A Durham County magistrate was in the field to process those arrested.

Devalle said the operation had been planned for two months, and aimed to make Durham’s roads safer.

“Our office wanted to give the gift of life,” Devalle said. “We’re short-staffed, and there could have been more arrests if we had more troopers on the road, but we’ll continue to work hard to keep the roads safe.”

Devalle said most of those arrested were released on bond.

“We wouldn’t be able to do these special operations without support of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), the District Attorney’s Office and the Magistrate’s Office,” Devalle said.

He said cooperation from Durham County’s chief magistrate, Don Paschall, was especially helpful, because those charged could be processed in the field.

“Otherwise, he couldn’t process as many people, because we’d be stuck in the jail [at the magistrate’s office] in line with everybody else,” he said.

Ollie Jeffers, president of the Durham chapter of MADD, praised the troopers’ dedication.

“This was a great undertaking,” she said. “You would think that in this day and time, we wouldn’t have that many people drinking and driving. This shows that we have a lot of work to do. They arrested 74 drivers, but there were probably 74 others who went undetected.”

“I’ve seen the outcome those who didn’t make it on the highway,” Jeffers said. “I’ve worked with the families of loved ones who were killed or injured, so I appreciate the troopers being proactive to remove those impaired drivers from our roads.”