SHELBY - Law enforcement sent a message Friday night. N.C. Highway Patrol kicked off the summer with a DWI checkpoint to let drivers know they're being watched.
The checkpoint started at 10 p.m. on U.S. 74 at the intersection of Long Branch Road and netted a total of 85 charges. "It was a very successful night," said Trooper Sgt. J.C. McClelland. "We are trying to send a message that you can expect to see random DWI check-points the remainder of the year." Shelby Police, the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office, Bethlehem Volunteer Fire Department, the Cleveland County Detention Center and the Cleve-land County Magistrate's office assisted at the checkpoint. "The process was very streamlined," McClelland said. "The officers were able to process (people) at roadside without the officer leaving the scene."
There were a total of 85 charges, McClelland said. Even though there were only five DWI arrests, McClelland said, the results were positive. "Anytime you remove an impaired driver from the roadway, you are saving lives," he said. The bulk of charges that occurred that night might surprise some. There were 20 who were driving while license revoked and another 35 for those who were driving without a license. "That was amazing," he said. "That is one of the highest I have seen at one particular checkpoint in my career."
The BAT Mobile is a portable breathalyzer room, McClelland said, and was stationed at the checkpoint to help process DWI charges. There is a separate section where the magistrate can process those who were charged, he said. "This is all about public safety," he said. "Hopefully they will think twice before getting into the car and driving."
McClelland said the agencies have three focal points when doing a DWI checkpoint. "We want to deter, detect and apprehend those who are committing violations," he said.