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State kicks off “Operation Firecracker,” part of annual Booze It & Lose It campaign

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 8:22 PM EDT
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HAVELOCK, N.C. (WITN) -

Alcohol is often times synonymous with celebrating, and with people all across North Carolina planning to celebrate this weekend, law enforcement agencies are warning impaired drivers not to get behind the wheel,

A number of those agencies from the east took part in a static display on Monday morning, quietly sending a loud message about drinking and driving.

"It's one of the leading killers in the state, so it is a priority of ours," says Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes.

Monday marked the kick off "Operation Firecracker," and the state's Booze It, Lose It campaign.

"The 4th of July is a very important holiday in North Carolina. It should be about friends, and family, and food, and fireworks, not about funerals," says Mark Ezzell, the Director for the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program.

Ezzell says the campaign is about a commitment to educating people bout the dangers of impaired driving.

"We can't arrest our way out of this problem. Impaired driving is something we're hoping we can prevent before it happens," Ezzell explains.

This year’s campaign will be different because of the pandemic. But how COVID-19 impacts the number of drivers on the road is still uncertain.

"It could be this year that fewer people are getting behind the wheel because bars are closed," says Ezzell.

On the other side, people could see that as a reason to take more risks, particularly visitors to the coast.

"We are still seeing large amounts of traffic, very heavy traffic going to and from the beach," where people have to drive right through Craven County, according to Sheriff Hughes.

That's why law enforcement is encouraging beach goers and other's celebrating this weekend to make plans ahead of time.

"No drunken or drug driving. If you need a ride, call one," Hughes says.

The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program says because of the pandemic, much of the messaging for this year’s campaign will be going out virtually and on social media. They’re encouraging people to use the hashtag #keysfreenc on all social media.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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