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Do drunken drivers use River Road to avoid law enforcement?

Brandy Bryant

Wilmington police officer J.D. Smith (left) stands next to his unmarked Ford Mustang as officer R.S. Harris stands in front of his Dodge Charger. The officers said the unmarked, sporty cars allow them to do police work they were unable to do with marked police vehicles. StarNews file photo.

Q. It seems that drunk drivers like to use River Road (instead of Carolina Beach Road) to avoid being seen by law enforcement. Does law enforcement agree? Statistically speaking, how does the number of annual DUI-related accidents and/or arrests on River Road compare with other streets in the area?

A. MyReporter contacted Lucy Crockett, public affairs officer for the Wilmington Police Department, who said it would be very difficult to compare the number of driving while impaired and traffic related citations or arrests because the traffic volume on the two roads are very different.

“Due to the split jurisdiction of River Road and the fact that it is less traveled than Carolina Beach Road, any type of comparison between DUIs and related arrests would not be very accurate,” says Crockett.

After Crockett polled several officers in the Traffic Unit, the consensus was that impaired drivers may choose River Road to avoid detection.

“Traffic on River Road still is light,” says Crockett. “So, officers generally choose to direct their efforts toward major roads where DUI enforcement will have a greater impact.”

Crockett said these comments were made to her by traffic officers:

“I think they do take River Road to avoid Carolina Beach Road if they are traveling from downtown going to the beach,or from the beach to a location downtown or Leland. Due to there not being much traffic out there (on River Road), officers tend not to concentrate enforcement there because the volume of traffic is very light.”

“I think the theory that people use back roads to avoid detection is overall correct, but the numbers don’t seem to identify River Rd as a specific route.”


How many DWI arrests are there each year in Wilmington?

How do law enforcement agencies announce when they will be doing DWI checkpoints?

What kind of unmarked vehicles are used by Wilmington Police?

User-contributed question by:
Darcie Watson

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