• 9 Investigates: Not all parts of Charlotte see DWI checkpoints

    By: Allison Latos

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Drivers have likely come across the flashing lights of a driving while intoxicated checkpoint where police team up to catch impaired drivers.
     
    Channel 9 took a deeper look at where police have focused efforts to stop those drivers.
     
    Eyewitness News requested every Charlotte-Mecklenburg police checkpoint location from 2013 to November 2014 and plotted all 42 spots on a map.

    Channel 9's research shows the checkpoints have spanned from Northlake Mall to the airport and down South Boulevard, but not all parts of the city.
     
    During the 23-month period analyzed, CMPD didn't hold any checkpoints in some areas like Ballantyne.
     
    Eyewitness News showed the map to Charlotte attorney Bill Powers, who focuses on DWI cases.
     
    He was surprised to see some areas with no checkpoints.
     
    "It tends to be the country club communities, you see in Ballantyne, Providence, up on the lake. You're just not seeing checkpoints. I don't know why," he said.
     
    In the past two years, CMPD arrested more than 3,000 drivers on DWI charges.
     
    Eyewitness News created a map to show that arrests are all over town, even if checkpoints are not.

    Powers said checkpoints are deterrents and if some areas don't have them, some drivers may take advantage.
     
    "I think they become a little more willing to take the chance of drinking and driving," Powers said.
     
    "Our goal is to drive ourselves out of business," said Sgt. Jesse Wood, who oversees CMPD's DWI Task Force.
     
    Eyewitness News asked Wood if the city is covered equally.
     
    "We move around the city. It changes. I only have six officers on my team and we move around the city based on where the crash data is,” Wood said.
     
    Wood said along with crash data, the task force weighs requests from the 13 CMPD divisions, manpower and safety when choosing checkpoint locations.

    PDF: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department 2013-14 DWI checkpoints
     
    Charlotte's DWI Task Force alone charged 1,500 drivers in the last year, but Powers argues that pales in comparison to other parts of the state.
     
     Wake County's district attorney told Channel 9 this fiscal year, they're on track to handle 6,000 charges.
     
    Their DWI arrests have jumped 20 to 30 percent in the past two years.
     
    "They're kicking our tail feathers," Powers said. "There is no argument about it."
     
    Channel 9 also questioned neighboring towns.
     
    Except Matthews, Pineville, Cornelius, Huntersville and Mint Hill had two or fewer checkpoints in the past two years.
     
    "Not only have some of those smaller towns or bedroom communities of the Charlotte metro community dropped the ball, they have left the game entirely," Powers said.
     
    Wood said checkpoints aren't their only tool and they're always watching for drunk drivers on patrol.
     
    Wood believes officers are making a dent in the problem.
     
     "We have seen a reduction in our DWI fatalities," he said.
     
    "We cannot and should not accept people dying on the roads due to an offense that is completely preventable," Powers said.
     
    It’s a preventable crime that claimed 324 lives statewide in 2013.
     
    The 13 different CMPD divisions are not required to hold a certain number of checkpoints each year.

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