100 Deadliest Days

Officers manning a checkpoint with the BAT-Mobile last year. (file photo)
Officers manning a checkpoint with the BAT-Mobile last year. (file photo)

BAT-Mobiles To Hit All 100 counties

The period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is referred to as the “100 deadliest days” on North Carolina highways. Impaired drivers, speeding and other unsafe practices become more common as thousands of vacationers hit the road for the summer.

The time of year is especially dangerous for teenagers, who are 16 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal crash during this time period, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The BAT-Mobile will also be on display in many communities as a reminder about drinking and driving. (NCDOT photo)

State officials announced Wednesday that  the state BAT-Mobiles will be deployed in all 100 counties during this year’s summer driving season. The BAT-Mobiles – short for Blood Alcohol Testing – are used in anti-drunk driving campaigns. The converted recreational vehicles have multiple breathalyzer testing stations, work areas for law enforcement officers, and a mobile magistrate’s office for suspects being charged with various crimes.

“BAT-mobiles – while not exactly the same as the one Batman drove – are a pretty critical tool for fighting crime in North Carolina, especially when it comes to impaired driving,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Program Director Mark Ezzell.
 The BAT-Mobile is a common sight in Columbus County, and is regularly part of multi-agency DWI checkpoints. Sheriff Jody Greene established a policy of aggressively pursuing DWIs and other crimes on the highway shortly after he was elected.

BAT-Mobiles are regularly used with anti-DWI campaigns operated by agencies ranging from the Highway Patrol and sheriff’s offices to the Wildlife Resources Commission’s Operation Dry Water. Units are deployed near boating access areas during Dry Water, and while Wildlife LEOs and Coast Guard track impaired boaters, their counterparts with land agencies aim at impaired automobile operators.

 The units allow law enforcement to conduct breath alcohol and other sobriety tests, are fully equipped with the instruments and forms necessary for a law enforcement officer to test and process a driver arrested for an impaired driving offense, and even have office space for a magistrate to operate in order to make the process of charging an impaired driver more seamless.

Officers can stay on a scene without losing time transporting suspects to the jail for processing.

The state’s seven BAT-mobiles are operated by the Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch, a division of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program provides funding for the vehicles.

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About Jefferson Weaver 1186 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of columbuscountynews.com and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at jeffersonweaver@columbuscountynews.com.