Drunk driving can have the very worst outcome of any crime committed – human death – and local law enforcement takes the matter seriously.
This week, Guilford County’s effort to battle the crime is getting a big boost thanks to $142,425 in grant money that will fund 25 percent of the cost of a year of operating the DWI Taskforce aimed at keeping impaired drivers off the road.
The money, from the Governor’s Highway Safety DWI Taskforce Fund, is also meant to help catch speeders and drivers who don’t wear seatbelts or who don’t have their children properly restrained in the car.
The grant will help pay the salaries and benefits of Taskforce officers, as well as purchase the kits used to test blood alcohol levels and test for other substances. The money will also go toward the training and travel costs for taskforce members, including some out-of-state trips.
In addition, the money will in part fund six county positions devoted to addressing the issue: three Sheriff Department deputies, a sergeant, a master corporal and a DWI community educator.
The total annual cost of the program is $569,698, with Guilford County paying $427,273 and the grant providing the rest.
The DWI Taskforce has taken a lot of drivers off the road over the years. From December 2012 through July 2023, the task force made 7,588 arrests for driving while impaired and issued 3,639 tickets for not wearing seatbelts.
Also, in that time period, it has confiscated over 660 vehicles in DWI forfeiture cases with those vehicles having an estimated value of over $4.1 million.
From January 2019 through June 2023, the DWI community educator gave over 390 educational presentations on the importance of not driving while mpaired. Those presentations, usually given in classrooms or at community events, have been seen by over 18,000 people.
One recent change in the Task Force is that the High Point Police Department is no longer participating due to a personnel shortage. According to county documents, the High Point Police Department determined it needed the extra officers available for law enforcement in the city of High Point.