by: Paige Hansen Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have seen a more than a 1,000 percent increase in repeat DWI offenders.
The number jumped from five to more than 50 in the last year, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Officer Jonathan Cerdan.
CMPD devoted six officers to a DWI task force in November 2013 and they made all of the arrests.
Cerdan said he was surprised when he looked at how many repeat offenders the task force is pulling over.
"When I find out that they've had a second or third DWI, the first thing I think is 'they know better,'" Cerdan said.
From November 2012 to June 2013, the six officers were in various divisions where they arrested five people suspected of a second DWI. After they formed the task force, those same officers made 56 arrests in that same time period this year.
Cerdan said the increase shows the effect of a focused task force.
"We have been given the time to devote totally to DWI enforcement," Cerdan said.
Local DWI attorney Robert Reeves said the second time around, the charge is a lot more serious for offenders. A second DWI arrest automatically includes jail time, he said.
"You're looking at a minimum of seven days to one year and the fines start having three zeros instead of two zeros," Reeves said.
Reeves said he's heard it all from his clients.
"’I thought I was fine. I went out with some friends had a couple beers,'" Reeves said his clients would tell him. "I get a lot of professional folks -- airline pilots, a lot of bankers."
Officers both on and off the task force expect to make more arrests this summer when the number of impaired drivers is generally higher.
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