For the second year in a row, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office did their part to keep roads safer during the new year with Operation Think Twice.
“Think Twice” is a unique initiative with the objective of lowering the rate of drinking and driving during the New Year’s celebrations, and so far, is an exclusive initiative of Macon County. From 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, party-goers were encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office to request a ride home with no questions asked.
Last year, 65 people were transported to their destinations by officers assigned to the operation, and only two DUIs were reported. This year, 51 individuals called the Macon County Sheriff’s Office [MCSO] and requested a ride home, and a total of four DUIs were reported.
Regardless of the slight decrease, Sheriff Robert Holland said the program served its purpose.
“We consider this prevention program to have been a success,” he said, adding that the 51 individuals who got a ride were 51 avoided DUIs. Rides as far as Burningtown were given, according to Holland.
Franklin Police Department reported two DUIs while the Highlands Police Department reported none.
“While our check points produced two drunk drivers, officers on routine patrol arrested two other individuals for drunk driving, All four of these individuals refused to take advantage of our program and instead of getting a ride home, they were arrested and got a ride to jail,” Holland said.
To promote the operation, posters and fliers had been distributed around the county at alcohol-selling establishments and notices were given on social networking sites such as Facebook. People were encouraged to call the MCSO, where an officer specifically assigned to take their calls would record basic information, such as their location and their destination.
The MCSO set up three separate traffic checkpoints on New Year’s Eve and were assisted by the Franklin Police Department and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
These checkpoints produced two arrests of individuals driving while impaired, two citations for having no operator license, two expired registration citations, two drug offense citations, one arrest for driving while license revoked, one moving violation (arrest for driving while license revoked), four license restriction violations (warning citations), three citations for failure to carry a license, one inspection sticker violation and three equipment violations.