DWIs increase among Appalachian students

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The Appalachian Online

The Appalachian

Appalachian State University has seen an increase in the number of DWI arrests on campus this year, despite no increase in patrol from University Police, Officer William Watson said.

DWI stands for driving while impaired. According to www.dmv.org/nc-north-carolina, a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is the most common way North Carolina police officers determine whether they are legally impaired. The BAC limit is 0.08 percent for a driver 21 years old or older; 0.04 percent for commercial drivers; 0.04 percent for drivers with prior DWI arrests and any alcohol concentration for drivers younger than 21 years old.

According to www.police.appstate.edu, there were three DWI arrests on campus just this past week.

“The amount of patrol cars we send out on the weekend has not increased,” Watson said. “In January alone, I charged seven DWIs.”

Watson said since March of last year, he alone has written up more than 50 DWIs, not including other police officers’ write-ups.

According to www.police.appstate.edu, there were 58 recorded DWI arrests on campus during the 2014 calender year, not including those off campus. So far in 2015, there have been 8 DWI arrests on campus.

University Police conducts random checkpoints throughout the year. There are two forms of checkpoints – one is known as a license check, and the other is known as a DWI check.

During a license check, police officers only check if the driver has a valid license. It isn’t unless the officer smells or suspects something illegal – such as marijuana – that they check for possession or consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.

During one of two annual DWI checkpoints, Watson said they bring in a vehicle called the “Batmobile.”

“The Batmobile is a black van we bring that has tools and equipment that allow us to breathalyze and test an individual for consumption of a substance,” Watson said.

Though “beeping” is illegal and punishable by law, University Police suggests the use of the “beeper” system if absolutely necessary.

“We’re for and against it – it’s quite difficult to say,” Watson said.

Watson suggested that people talk to their beeper before entering the car to ensure sobriety and the truthfulness of the individual.

“I tend to be lenient when it comes to beeping,” Watson said. “When there is a sober driver driving intoxicated individuals, I tend to let them go due to making the right choice in taking a sober driver.”

If anyone has any questions or concerns dealing with DWIs, he or she is encouraged to contact University Police at 828-262-2150.

STORY: Mary Wood, Intern News Reporter